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Cloning and Characterization of a Member of the Xanthomonas avr/pth Gene Family That Evades All Commercially Utilized Cotton R Genes in the United States

November 1997 , Volume 87 , Number  11
Pages  1,160 - 1,167

P. K. Chakrabarty , Y. P. Duan , and D. W. Gabriel

Plant Pathology Department, University of Florida, Gainesville 32611

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Accepted for publication 1 August 1997.

The highly virulent African strains of Xanthomonas campestris pv. malvacearum are quarantined pathogens in the United States and can evade or overcome all commercially utilized resistance (R) genes in cotton grown in the United States including the entire set of host differential lines used to distinguish 19 races of the pathogen. Nevertheless, the African strains carry multiple DNA fragments that strongly hybridize with members of the Xanthomonas avirulence (avr)/pathogenicity (pth) gene family. Since all previously tested members of the gene family confer avirulence against one or more R genes in cotton, strains carrying multiple members might not be expected to evade so many different R genes. The hybridizing DNA fragments were cloned from African strain XcmN and found to confer water-soaking ability to a nearly asymptomatic mutant strain of the pathogen. Restriction mapping, Southern hybridization, and DNA sequencing of the cloned fragments from XcmN were used to identify two water-soaking genes, pthN and pthN2, as new members of the Xanthomonas avr/pth gene family. The complete DNA sequence of pthN was obtained, and it is >94% identical with all other sequenced members of the gene family. Gene fusions of pthN with avrb6 (another family member) and other experiments revealed that the ability of African strain XcmN to water-soak cotton and avoid recognition by commercially used cotton R genes is determined by the specific repeats of multiple functional members of the Xanthomonas avr/pth gene family.

Additional keywords: cotton blight, gene-for-gene, Gossypium hirsutum, race specificity.

© 1997 The American Phytopathological Society