Journal Article

The effect of environmental heterogeneity on <i>RPW8</i>-mediated resistance to powdery mildews in <i>Arabidopsis thaliana</i>

Tove H. Jorgensen

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 109, issue 4, pages 833-842
Published in print March 2012 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online January 2012 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
The effect of environmental heterogeneity on RPW8-mediated resistance to powdery mildews in Arabidopsis thaliana

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Background and Aims

The biotic and abiotic environment of interacting hosts and parasites may vary considerably over small spatial and temporal scales. It is essential to understand how different environments affect host disease resistance because this determines frequency of disease and, importantly, heterogeneous environments can retard direct selection and potentially maintain genetic variation for resistance in natural populations.


The effect of different temperatures and soil nutrient conditions on the outcome of infection by a pathogen was quantified in Arabidopsis thaliana. Expression levels of a gene conferring resistance to powdery mildews, RPW8, were compared with levels of disease to test a possible mechanism behind variation in resistance.

Key Results

Most host genotypes changed from susceptible to resistant across environments with the ranking of genotypes differing between treatments. Transcription levels of RPW8 increased after infection and varied between environments, but there was no tight association between transcription and resistance levels.


There is a strong potential for a heterogeneous environment to change the resistance capacity of A. thaliana genotypes and hence the direction and magnitude of selection in the presence of the pathogen. Possible causative links between resistance gene expression and disease resistance are discussed in light of the present results on RPW8.

Keywords: Genotype × environment interaction; RPW8; Arabidopsis thaliana; Golovinomyces orontii; powdery mildew; qPCR; temperature; plant × pathogen interaction; disease resistance

Journal Article.  6329 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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