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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Genetic variation along an altitudinal gradient in the Phytophthora infestans effector gene Pi02860

Yang, Li-Na; Ouyang, Haibing; Nkurikiyimfura, Oswald; Fang, Hanmei; Waheed, Abdul; Li, Wenyang; Wang, Yan-Ping; Zhan, Jiasui;


Effector genes, together with climatic and other environmental factors, play multifaceted roles in the development of plant diseases. Understanding the role of environmental factors, particularly climate conditions affecting the evolution of effector genes, is important for predicting the long-term value of the genes in controlling agricultural diseases. Here, we collected Phytophthora infestans populations from five locations along a mountainous hill in China and sequenced the effector gene Pi02860 from >300 isolates. To minimize the influence of other ecological factors, isolates were sampled from the same potato cultivar on the same day. We also expressed the gene to visualise its cellular location, assayed its pathogenicity and evaluated its response to experimental temperatures. We found that Pi02860 exhibited moderate genetic variation at the nucleotide level which was mainly generated by point mutation. The mutations did not change the cellular location of the effector gene but significantly modified the fitness of P. infestans. Genetic variation and pathogenicity of the effector gene were positively associated with the altitude of sample sites, possibly due to increased mutation rate induced by the vertical distribution of environmental factors such as UV radiation and temperature. We further found that Pi02860 expression was regulated by experimental temperature with reduced expression as experimental temperature increased. Together, these results indicate that UV radiation and temperature are important environmental factors regulating the evolution of effector genes and provide us with considerable insight as to their future sustainable action under climate and other environmental change.


adaptation; agriculture; population genetics; plant pathogen; virulence factor; climate change; natural selection; molecular evolution

Published in

Frontiers in Microbiology

2022, volume: 13, article number: 972928

Authors' information

Yang, Li-Na
Minjiang University
Ouyang, Haibing
Nanjing Agricultural University
Nkurikiyimfura, Oswald
Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University
Fang, Hanmei
Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University
Waheed, Abdul
Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University
Li, Wenyang
Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University
Wang, Yan-Ping
Chengdu Normal University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Mycology and Plant Pathology

UKÄ Subject classification

Agricultural Science

Publication Identifiers


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