A giant NLR gene confers broad-spectrum resistance to Phytophthora sojae in soybean (Nature Comms.)

Phytophthora sojae is an oomycete pathogen that causes huge yield losses in soybean. Genetic studies have identified several loci that confer resistance (Resistance-to-P. sojae loci, or Rps). Here, Wang et al. have cloned Rps11 and found that it encodes a very large NLR (nucleotide-binding site leucine-rich repeat) protein. Their initial mapping identified a cluster of NLR-encoding genes responsible for broad-spectrum resistance (they found resistance to 80% of the P. sojae isolates they tested), and fine-structure mapping followed by generation of Rps11 transgenic lines demonstrated that Rps11 alone confers this resistance. From start- to stop-codon, the Rps11 gene is 14 kb, but its transcript initiation site lies 13 kb upstream of the ATG and contains several introns, making this a very large gene. The authors also investigated the evolutionary history of this large gene through phylogenetic analysis and found that it originates from several unequal recombination events. Identifying which features of Rps11 are responsible for the broad-spectrum resistance awaits further studies. (Summary by Mary Williams @PlantTeaching)  Nature Comms. 10.1038/s41467-021-26554-8