The failure of gene-for-gene resistance traits to provide durable and broad-spectrum resistance in an agricultural context has led to the search for genes underlying quantitative resistance in plants. Such genes have been identified in only a few cases, all for fungal or nematode resistance, and encode diverse molecular functions. However, an understanding of the molecular mechanisms of quantitative resistance variation to other enemies and the associated evolutionary forces shaping this variation remain largely unknown. We report the identification, map-based cloning and functional validation of QRX3 (RKS1, Resistance related KinaSe 1), conferring broad-spectrum resistance to Xanthomonas campestris (Xc), a devastating worldwide bacterial vascular pathogen of crucifers. RKS1 encodes an atypical kinase that mediates a quantitative resistance mechanism in plants by restricting bacterial spread from the infection site. Nested Genome-Wide Association mapping revealed a major locus corresponding to an allelic series at RKS1 at the species level. An association between variation in resistance and RKS1 transcription was found using various transgenic lines as well as in natural accessions, suggesting that regulation of RKS1 expression is a major component of quantitative resistance to Xc. The co-existence of long lived RKS1 haplotypes in A. thalianais shared with a variety of genes involved in pathogen recognition, suggesting common selective pressures. The identification of RKS1 constitutes a starting point for deciphering the mechanisms underlying broad spectrum quantitative disease resistance that is effective against a devastating and vascular crop pathogen. Because putative RKS1 orthologous have been found in other Brassica species, RKS1 provides an exciting opportunity for plant breeders to improve resistance to black rot in crops.
Via Suayib Üstün, Nicolas Denancé