Co-evolutionary interactions between host resistance and pathogen avirulence genes in rice-Magnaporthe oryzae pathosystem.Fungal Genet Biol. 2018 06; 115:9-19.FG
Rice and Magnaporthe oryzae constitutes an ideal pathosystem for studying host-pathogen interaction in cereals crops. There are two alternative hypotheses, viz. Arms race and Trench warfare, which explain the co-evolutionary dynamics of hosts and pathogens which are under continuous confrontation. Arms race proposes that both R- and Avr- genes of host and pathogen, respectively, undergo positive selection. Alternatively, trench warfare suggests that either R- or Avr- gene in the pathosystem is under balanced selection intending to stabilize the genetic advantage gained over the opposition. Here, we made an attempt to test the above-stated hypotheses in rice-M. oryzae pathosystem at loci of three R-Avr gene pairs, Piz-t-AvrPiz-t, Pi54-AvrPi54 and Pita-AvrPita using allele mining approach. Allele mining is an efficient way to capture allelic variants existing in the population and to study the selective forces imposed on the variants during evolution. Results of nucleotide diversity, neutrality statistics and phylogenetic analyses reveal that Piz-t, Pi54 and AvrPita are diversified and under positive selection at their corresponding loci, while their counterparts, AvrPiz-t, AvrPi54 and Pita are conserved and under balancing selection, in nature. These results imply that rice-M. oryzae populations are engaged in a trench warfare at least at the three R/Avr loci studied. It is a maiden attempt to study the co-evolution of three R-Avr gene pairs in this pathosystem. Knowledge gained from this study will help in understanding the evolutionary dynamics of host-pathogen interaction in a better way and will also aid in developing new durable blast resistant rice varieties in future.