The Brassicaceae family displays divergent, shoot-skewed NLR resistance gene expression

NLR (Nucleotide-binding site leucine-rich repeat resistance) genes help plants recognize pathogens. Munch et al. looked at expression pattern data of 1,235 NLRs from nine plant species. The distribution of NLR gene expression between shoot and root is relatively constant within a species, and for most species is skewed towards root-specific expression. This is interesting because most of the NLR/effector studies have been conducted in shoot, but not surprising considering the richness of the soil microbiome. However, in the Brassicaceae family the expression of NLR genes is skewed toward the shoot. The authors speculate that perhaps in this family secondary metabolites have taken over some of the defense roles from NLRs in the root, and also query whether the lack of mycorrhizal symbiosis in this family could be correlated with this observation. (Summary by Mary Williams) Plant Physiol. 10.1104/pp.17.01606