Amplification generates modular diversity at an avirulence locus in the pathogen Phytophthora

R.H.Y. Jiang, R. Weide, P.J.I. van de Vondervoort, F. Govers

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38 Citations (Scopus)


The destructive late blight pathogen Phytophthora infestans is notorious for its rapid adaptation to circumvent detection mediated by plant resistance (R) genes. We performed comparative genomic hybridization on microarrays (array-CGH) in a near genome-wide survey to identify genome rearrangements related to changes in virulence. Six loci with copy number variation were found, one of which involves an amplification colocalizing with a previously identified locus that confers avirulence in combination with either R gene R3b, R10, or R11. Besides array-CGH, we used three independent approaches to find candidate genes at the Avr3b¿Avr10¿Avr11 locus: positional cloning, cDNA-AFLP analysis, and Affymetrix array expression profiling. This resulted in one candidate, pi3.4, that encodes a protein of 1956 amino acids with regulatory domains characteristic for transcription factors. Amplification is restricted to the 3' end of the full-length gene but the amplified copies still contain the hallmarks of a regulatory protein. Sequence comparison showed that the amplification may generate modular diversity and assist in the assembly of novel full-length genes via unequal crossing-over. Analyses of P. infestans field isolates revealed that the pi3.4 amplification correlates with avirulence; isolates virulent on R3b, R10, and R11 plants lack the amplified gene cluster. The ancestral state of 3.4 in the Phytophthora lineage is a full-length, single-copy gene. In P. infestans, however, pi3.4 is a dynamic gene that is amplified and has moved to other locations. Modular diversity could be a novel mechanism for pathogens to quickly adapt to changes in the environment
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)827-840
JournalGenome Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • gene amplification
  • cladosporium-fulvum
  • effector proteins
  • cdna-aflp
  • infestans
  • resistance
  • potato
  • arabidopsis
  • virulence
  • disease


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