The perception of Phytophthora sojae avirulence (Avr) gene products by corresponding soybean resistance (Rps) gene products causes effector triggered immunity. Past studies have shown that the Avr3a and Avr5 genes of P. sojae are genetically linked, and the Avr3a gene encoding a secreted RXLR effector protein was recently identified. We now provide evidence that Avr3a and Avr5 are allelic. Genetic mapping data from F(2) progeny indicates that Avr3a and Avr5 co-segregate, and haplotype analysis of P. sojae strain collections reveal sequence and transcriptional polymorphisms that are consistent with a single genetic locus encoding Avr3a/5. Transformation of P. sojae and transient expression in soybean were performed to test how Avr3a/5 alleles interact with soybean Rps3a and Rps5. Over-expression of Avr3a/5 in a P. sojae strain that is normally virulent on Rps3a and Rps5 results in avirulence to Rps3a and Rps5; whereas silencing of Avr3a/5 causes gain of virulence in a P. sojae strain that is normally avirulent on Rps3a and Rps5 soybean lines. Transient expression and co-bombardment with a reporter gene confirms that Avr3a/5 triggers cell death in Rps5 soybean leaves in an appropriate allele-specific manner. Sequence analysis of the Avr3a/5 gene identifies crucial residues in the effector domain that distinguish recognition by Rps3a and Rps5.
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