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Ancient Diversification of the Pto Kinase Family Preceded Speciation in Solanum

August 2001 , Volume 14 , Number  8
Pages  996 - 1,005

Vivianne G. A. A. Vleeshouwers , 1 , 2 , 3 Adrie Martens , 1 , 2 Willem van Dooijeweert , 1 Leontine T. Colon , 1 Francine Govers , 2 , 3 and Sophien Kamoun 2 , 3

1Plant Research International, Wageningen University and Research Center, Wageningen, The Netherlands; 2Laboratory of Phytopathology, Wageningen University, Wageningen University and Research Center, Wageningen, The Netherlands; 3Graduate School Experimental Plant Sciences, The Netherlands

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Accepted 6 April 2001.

Recent phylogenetic analyses of the nucleotide binding sites (NBS)-leucine-rich repeats (LRR) class of plant disease resistance (R) genes suggest that these genes are ancient and coexist next to susceptibility alleles at resistance loci. Another class of R genes encodes serine-threonine protein kinases related to Pto that were originally identified from wild relatives of tomato. In this study, we exploit the highly diverse genus Solanum to identify Pto-like sequences and test various evolutionary scenarios for Pto-like genes. Polymerase chain reaction amplifications with the use of primers that were developed on the basis of conserved and variable regions of Pto revealed an extensive Pto gene family and yielded 32 intact Pto-like sequences from six Solanum species. Furthermore, Pto-like transcripts were detected in the leaf tissue of all tested plants. The kinase consensus and autophosphorylation sites were highly conserved, in contrast to the kinase activation domain, which is involved in ligand recognition in Pto. Phylogenetic analyses distinguished nine classes of Pto-like genes and revealed that orthologs were more similar than paralogs, suggesting that the Pto gene family evolved through a series of ancient gene duplication events prior to speciation in Solanum. Thus, like the NBS-LRR class, the kinase class of R genes is highly diverse and ancient.

Additional keywords: evolution, potato, wild Solanum spp.

© 2001 The American Phytopathological Society