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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Evidence for a synergistic effect of post-translational modifications and genomic composition of eEF-1 alpha on the adaptation of Phytophthora infestans

Wang, Yan-Ping; Wu, E-Jiao; Lurwanu, Yahuza; Ding, Ji-Peng; He, Dun-Chun; Waheed, Abdul; Nkurikiyimfura, Oswald; Liu, Shi-Ting; Li, Wen-Yang; Wang, Zong-Hua; Yang, Lina; Zhan, Jiasui


Genetic variation plays a fundamental role in pathogen's adaptation to environmental stresses. Pathogens with low genetic variation tend to survive and proliferate more poorly due to their lack of genotypic/phenotypic polymorphisms in responding to fluctuating environments. Evolutionary theory hypothesizes that the adaptive disadvantage of genes with low genomic variation can be compensated for structural diversity of proteins through post-translation modification (PTM) but this theory is rarely tested experimentally and its implication to sustainable disease management is hardly discussed. In this study, we analyzed nucleotide characteristics of eukaryotic translation elongation factor-1 alpha (eEF-l alpha) gene from 165 Phytophthora infestans isolates and the physical and chemical properties of its derived proteins. We found a low sequence variation of eEF-l alpha protein, possibly attributable to purifying selection and a lack of intra-genic recombination rather than reduced mutation. In the only two isoforms detected by the study, the major one accounted for >95% of the pathogen collection and displayed a significantly higher fitness than the minor one. High lysine representation enhances the opportunity of the eEF-1 alpha protein to be methylated and the absence of disulfide bonds is consistent with the structural prediction showing that many disordered regions are existed in the protein. Methylation, structural disordering, and possibly other PTMs ensure the ability of the protein to modify its functions during biological, cellular and biochemical processes, and compensate for its adaptive disadvantage caused by sequence conservation. Our results indicate that PTMs may function synergistically with nucleotide codes to regulate the adaptive landscape of eEF-1 alpha, possibly as well as other housekeeping genes, in P. infestans. Compensatory evolution between pre- and post-translational phase in eEF-1 alpha could enable pathogens quickly adapting to disease management strategies while efficiently maintaining critical roles of the protein playing in biological, cellular, and biochemical activities. Implications of these results to sustainable plant disease management are discussed.


adaptation; compensatory evolution; housekeeping genes; methylation; plant pathogens; post‐translational modification; protein disordering; sustainable disease management

Published in

Ecology and Evolution
2021, volume: 11, number: 10, pages: 5484-5496
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Wang, Yan-Ping
Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University
Wu, E-Jiao
Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University
Lurwanu, Yahuza
Bayero University
Ding, Ji-Peng
Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University
He, Dun-Chun
Fujian Jiangxia University
Waheed, Abdul
Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University
Nkurikiyimfura, Oswald
Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University
Liu, Shi-Ting
Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University
Li, Wen-Yang
Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University
Wang, Zong-Hua
Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University
Yang, Lina
Minjiang University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Mycology and Plant Pathology

Associated SLU-program

SLU Network Plant Protection

UKÄ Subject classification

Evolutionary Biology

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