Multiple genetic processes result in heterogeneous rates of evolution within the major cluster disease resistance genes in lettuce

Hanhui Kuang, Sung Sick Woo, Blake C. Meyers, Eviatar Nevo, Richard W. Michelmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Resistance Gene Candidate2 (RGC2) genes belong to a large, highly duplicated family of nucleotide binding site-leucine rich repeat (NBS-LRR) encoding disease resistance genes located at a single locus in lettuce (Lactuca sativa). To investigate the genetic events occurring during the evolution of this locus, ∼1.5- to 2-kb 3′ fragments of 126 RGC2 genes from seven genotypes were sequenced from three species of Lactuca, and 107 additional RGC2 sequences were obtained from 40 wild accessions of Lactuca spp. The copy number of RGC2 genes varied from 12 to 32 per genome in the seven genotypes studied extensively. LRR number varied from 40 to 47; most of this variation had resulted from 13 events duplicating two to five LRRs because of unequal crossing-over within or between RGC2 genes at one of two recombination hot spots. Two types of RGC2 genes (Type I and Type II) were initially distinguished based on the pattern of sequence identities between their 3′ regions. The existence of two types of RGC2 genes was further supported by intron similarities, the frequency of sequence exchange, and their prevalence in natural populations. Type I genes are extensive chimeras caused by frequent sequence exchanges. Frequent sequence exchanges between Type I genes homogenized intron sequences, but not coding sequences, and obscured allelic/orthologous relationships. Sequencing of Type I genes from additional wild accessions confirmed the high frequency of sequence exchange and the presence of numerous chimeric RGC2 genes in nature. Unlike Type I genes, Type II genes exhibited infrequent sequence exchange between paralogous sequences. Type II genes from different genotype/species within the genus Lactuca showed obvious allelic/orthologous relationships. Trans-specific polymorphism was observed for different groups of orthologs, suggesting balancing selection. Unequal crossover, insertion/deletion, and point mutation events were distributed unequally through the gene. Different evolutionary forces have impacted different parts of the LRR.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2870-2894
Number of pages25
JournalPlant Cell
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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