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Diversity of Avr‐vnt1 and AvrSmira1 effector genes in Polish and Norwegian populations of Phytophthora infestans

Stefańczyk, E., Brylińska, M., Brurberg, M. B., Naerstad, R., Elameen, A., Sobkowiak, S., Śliwka, J.
Plant pathology 2018 v.67 no.8 pp. 1792-1802
Phytophthora infestans, amino acids, durability, pathogens, potatoes, proteins, resistance genes, virulence, Norway, Poland
The oomycete Phytophthora infestans, the cause of late blight, is one of the most important potato pathogens. During infection, it secretes effector proteins that manipulate host cell function, thus contributing to pathogenicity. This study examines sequence differentiation of two P. infestans effectors from 91 isolates collected in Poland and Norway and five reference isolates. A gene encoding the Avr‐vnt1 effector, recognized by the potato Rpi‐phu1 resistance gene product, is conserved. In contrast, the second effector, AvrSmira1 recognized by Rpi‐Smira1, is highly diverse. Both effectors contain positively selected amino acids. A majority of the polymorphisms and all selected sites are located in the effector C‐terminal region, which is responsible for their function inside host cells. Hence it is concluded that they are associated with a response to diversified target protein or recognition avoidance. Diversification of the AvrSmira1 effector sequences, which existed prior to the large‐scale cultivation of plants containing the Rpi‐Smira1 gene, may reduce the predicted durability of resistance provided by this gene. Although no isolates virulent to plants with the Rpi‐phu1 gene were found, the corresponding Avr‐vnt1 effector has undergone selection, providing evidence for an ongoing ‘arms race’ between the host and pathogen. Both genes remain valuable components for resistance gene pyramiding.