• Plant genomes contain numerous disease resistance genes (R genes) that play roles in defense against pathogens. Scarcity of genetic polymorphism makes peanut (Arachis hypogaea) especially vulnerable to a wide variety of pathogens. • Here, we isolated and characterized peanut bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) containing a high density of R genes. Analysis of two genomic regions identified several TIR-NBS-LRR (Toll-interleukin-1 receptor, nucleotide-binding site, leucine-rich repeat) resistance gene analogs or gene fragments. We reconstructed their evolutionary history characterized by tandem duplications, possibly facilitated by transposon activities. We found evidence of both intergenic and intragenic gene conversions and unequal crossing-over, which may be driving forces underlying the functional evolution of resistance. • Analysis of the sequence mutations, protein secondary structure and three-dimensional structures, all suggest that LRR domains are the primary contributor to the evolution of resistance genes. The central part of LRR regions, assumed to serve as the active core, may play a key role in the resistance function by having higher rates of duplication and DNA conversion than neighboring regions. The assumed active core is characterized by significantly enriched leucine residue composition, accumulation of positively selected sites, and shorter beta sheets. • Homologous resistance gene analog (RGA)-containing regions in peanut, soybean, Medicago, Arabidopsis and grape have only limited gene synteny and microcollinearity.
© 2011 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2011 New Phytologist Trust.