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Summary

Leptosphaeria maculans, a Dothideomycete causing stem canker on oilseed rape (Brassica napus), develops gene-for-gene interactions with its host plants. To date, nine resistance genes (Rlm1–9) have been identified in Brassica spp. The corresponding nine avirulence genes (AvrLm1–9) in L. maculans have been mapped at four independent loci, thereby revealing two clusters of three and four linked avirulence genes. Here, we report the completion of map-based cloning of AvrLm1. AvrLm1 was genetically delineated within a 7.3 centimorgan interval corresponding to a 439 kb BAC contig. AvrLm1 is a single copy gene isolated within a 269 kb non-coding, heterochromatin-like region. The region comprised a number of degenerated, nested copies of four long-terminal repeat (LTR) retrotransposons, including Pholy and three novel Gypsy-like retrotransposons. AvrLm1 restored the avirulent phenotype on Rlm1 cultivars following functional complementation of virulent isolates. AvrLm1 homologues were not detected in other Leptosphaeria species or in known fungal genomes including the closely related species Stagonospora nodorum. The predicted AvrLm1 protein is composed of 205 amino acids, of which only one is a cysteine residue. It contains a peptide signal suggesting extracellular localization. Unlike most other fungal avirulence genes, AvrLm1 is constitutively expressed, with a probable increased level of expression upon plant infection, suggesting the absence of tight regulation of AvrLm1 expression.