Two linked pairs of TNL resistance genes function independently to recognize bacterial effector AvrRps4 in Arabidopsis



Plant immunity requires recognition of pathogen effectors by intracellular NB-LRR immune receptors encoded by Resistance (R) genes. Most R proteins recognize a specific effector, but some function in pairs that recognize multiple effectors. Arabidopsis thaliana TIR-NB-LRR proteins RRS1-R and RPS4 together recognize two bacterial effectors, AvrRps4 from Pseudomonas syringae and PopP2 from Ralstonia solanacearum. However, AvrRps4, but not PopP2, is recognized in rrs1/rps4 mutants. We reveal an R gene pair that resembles and is linked to RRS1/RPS4, designated as RRS1B/RPS4B, which confers recognition of AvrRps4 but not PopP2. Like RRS1/RPS4, RRS1B/RPS4B proteins associate and activate defence genes upon AvrRps4 recognition. Inappropriate combinations (RRS1/RPS4B or RRS1B/RPS4) are non-functional and this specificity is not TIR domain dependent. Distinct putative orthologues of both pairs are maintained in the genomes of Arabidopsis thaliana relatives and are likely derived from a common ancestor pair. Our results provide novel insights into paired R gene function and evolution.