Molecular genetics and evolution of disease resistance in cereals

Year: 2016


Krattinger SG and Keller B (2016) Molecular genetics and evolution of disease resistance in cereals. New Phytologist 212: 320-332.


Cereal crops produce a large part of the globally consumed food and feed. Because of the constant presence of devastating pathogens, the molecular characterization of disease resistance is a major research area and highly relevant for breeding. There has been recent and accelerating progress in the understanding of three distinct resistance mechanisms in cereals: resistance conferred by plasma membrane‐localized receptor proteins; race‐specific resistance conferred by intracellular immune receptors; and quantitative disease resistance. Intracellular immune receptors provide a particularly rich source for evolutionary studies, and have, for example, resulted in the recent discovery of a novel detection mechanism based on integrated decoy domains. Evolutionary studies have also revealed the origins of active resistance genes in both wild progenitors of today's cereals as well as in cultivated forms. In addition, independent evolution of orthologous genes in related cereals has resulted in resistance to different pathogen species. Quantitative resistance genes have been best characterized in wheat. The quantitative resistance genes identified so far in wheat encode transporter proteins or unusual kinase proteins. The recent discoveries in these three different resistance mechanisms have contributed to the basic molecular understanding of cereal immunity against pathogens and have suggested novel applications for resistance breeding.