Open Access Research article

Leucine-Rich repeat receptor kinases are sporadically distributed in eukaryotic genomes

Anne Diévart1*, Nicolas Gilbert2, Gaétan Droc1, Agnès Attard3, Matthieu Gourgues3, Emmanuel Guiderdoni1 and Christophe Périn1

Author affiliations

1 CIRAD, UMR AGAP, F-34398 Montpellier, France

2 Institut de Génétique Humaine, CNRS, UPR 1142, 141 rue de la Cardonille, 34396 Montpellier cedex 5, France

3 INRA, CNRS, Université Nice-Sophia Antipolis, UMR Interactions Biotiques et Santé Végétale, Sophia Antipolis, France

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Citation and License

BMC Evolutionary Biology 2011, 11:367  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-11-367

Published: 20 December 2011



Plant leucine-rich repeat receptor-like kinases (LRR-RLKs) are receptor kinases that contain LRRs in their extracellular domain. In the last 15 years, many research groups have demonstrated major roles played by LRR-RLKs in plants during almost all developmental processes throughout the life of the plant and in defense/resistance against a large range of pathogens. Recently, a breakthrough has been made in this field that challenges the dogma of the specificity of plant LRR-RLKs.


We analyzed ~1000 complete genomes and show that LRR-RK genes have now been identified in 8 non-plant genomes. We performed an exhaustive phylogenetic analysis of all of these receptors, revealing that all of the LRR-containing receptor subfamilies form lineage-specific clades. Our results suggest that the association of LRRs with RKs appeared independently at least four times in eukaryotic evolutionary history. Moreover, the molecular evolutionary history of the LRR-RKs found in oomycetes is reminiscent of the pattern observed in plants: expansion with amplification/deletion and evolution of the domain organization leading to the functional diversification of members of the gene family. Finally, the expression data suggest that oomycete LRR-RKs may play a role in several stages of the oomycete life cycle.


In view of the key roles that LRR-RLKs play throughout the entire lifetime of plants and plant-environment interactions, the emergence and expansion of this type of receptor in several phyla along the evolution of eukaryotes, and particularly in oomycete genomes, questions their intrinsic functions in mimicry and/or in the coevolution of receptors between hosts and pathogens.