Dynamics of disease resistance polymorphism at the Rpm1 locus of Arabidopsis

Nature. 1999 Aug 12;400(6745):667-71. doi: 10.1038/23260.


The co-evolutionary 'arms race' is a widely accepted model for the evolution of host-pathogen interactions. This model predicts that variation for disease resistance will be transient, and that host populations generally will be monomorphic at disease-resistance (R-gene) loci. However, plant populations show considerable polymorphism at R-gene loci involved in pathogen recognition. Here we have tested the arms-race model in Arabidopsis thaliana by analysing sequences flanking Rpm1, a gene conferring the ability to recognize Pseudomonas pathogens carrying AvrRpm1 or AvrB. We reject the arms-race hypothesis: resistance and susceptibility alleles at this locus have co-existed for millions of years. To account for the age of alleles and the relative levels of polymorphism within allelic classes, we use coalescence theory to model the long-term accumulation of nucleotide polymorphism in the context of the short-term ecological dynamics of disease resistance. This analysis supports a 'trench warfare' hypothesis, in which advances and retreats of resistance-allele frequency maintain variation for disease resistance as a dynamic polymorphism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / microbiology
  • Arabidopsis Proteins*
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genes, Plant
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Plant Diseases / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Pseudomonas / physiology


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Plant Proteins
  • RPM1 protein, Arabidopsis

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF122981
  • GENBANK/AF122982
  • GENBANK/AF122983
  • GENBANK/AF122984
  • GENBANK/AF122985
  • GENBANK/AF122986
  • GENBANK/AF122987
  • GENBANK/AF122988
  • GENBANK/AF122989
  • GENBANK/AF122990
  • GENBANK/AF122991
  • GENBANK/AF122992
  • GENBANK/AF122993
  • GENBANK/AF122994
  • GENBANK/AF122995
  • GENBANK/AF122996
  • GENBANK/AF122997
  • GENBANK/AF122998
  • GENBANK/AF122999
  • GENBANK/AF123000
  • GENBANK/AF123001
  • GENBANK/AF123002
  • GENBANK/AF123003
  • GENBANK/AF123004
  • GENBANK/AF123005
  • GENBANK/AF123006
  • GENBANK/AF123007
  • GENBANK/AF123008
  • GENBANK/AF123009
  • GENBANK/AF123010