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Pathogen stress increases somatic recombination frequency in Arabidopsis

Nature Genetics volume 30, pages 311314 (2002) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Evolution is based on genetic variability and subsequent phenotypic selection. Mechanisms that modulate the rate of mutation according to environmental cues, and thus control the balance between genetic stability and flexibility, might provide a distinct evolutionary advantage1,2,3,4. Stress-induced mutations stimulated by unfavorable environments, and possible mechanisms for their induction, have been described for several organisms2,3,4, but research in this area has mainly focused on microorganisms. We have analyzed the influence of adverse environmental conditions on the genetic stability of the higher plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Here we show that a biotic stress factor—attack by the oomycete pathogen Peronospora parasitica—can stimulate somatic recombination in Arabidopsis. The same effect was observed when plant pathogen-defense mechanisms were activated by the chemicals 2,6-dichloroisonicotinic acid (INA) or benzothiadiazole (BTH), or by a mutation (cim3). Together with previous studies of recombination induced by abiotic factors, these findings suggest that increased somatic recombination is a general stress response in plants. The increased genetic flexibility might facilitate evolutionary adaptation of plant populations to stressful environments.

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Acknowledgements

We thank C. Ramos for technical assistance, I. Kovalchuk and J. Molinier for critical comments on the manuscript, and D. Brubacher for help with data analysis. BTH was a gift from H. Kessmann, and K. Lawton supplied PR-1 antiserum. This work was supported by the NOVARTIS Research Foundation, by a grant from the European Union/Swiss Federal Office for Education and Science (to B.H.), a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (to J.P.M.) and an EMBO long-term fellowship (to J.M.L.).

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Author notes

    • Jan M. Lucht
    •  & Brigitte Mauch-Mani

    Present addresses: Freiburg University, Plant Biotechnology, Sonnenstrasse 5, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany (J.M.L.); Institut de Botanique, Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland (B.M.-M.).

Affiliations

  1. Friedrich Miescher Institute, PO Box 2543, CH-4002 Basel, Switzerland.

    • Jan M. Lucht
    •  & Barbara Hohn
  2. Department of Biology, University of Fribourg, CH-1700 Fribourg, Switzerland.

    • Brigitte Mauch-Mani
    •  & Jean-Pierre Metraux
  3. Syngenta, PO Box 12257, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709, USA.

    • Henry-York Steiner
  4. Paradigm Genetics, PO Box 14528, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709, USA.

    • John Ryals

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Correspondence to Jan M. Lucht.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/ng846

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