Open Access Open Badges Research article

Molecular characterisation and genetic mapping of candidate genes for qualitative disease resistance in perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.)

Peter M Dracatos124, Noel OI Cogan14, Timothy I Sawbridge14, Anthony R Gendall2, Kevin F Smith34, German C Spangenberg14 and John W Forster14*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Primary Industries, Biosciences Research Division, Victorian AgriBiosciences Centre, 1 Park Drive, La Trobe University Research and Development Park, Bundoora, Victoria 3083, Australia

2 Department of Botany, Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria 3086, Australia

3 Department of Primary Industries, Biosciences Research Division, Hamilton Centre, Mount Napier Road, Hamilton, Victoria 3300, Australia

4 Molecular Plant Breeding Cooperative Research Centre, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia

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BMC Plant Biology 2009, 9:62  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-9-62

Published: 19 May 2009



Qualitative pathogen resistance in both dicotyledenous and monocotyledonous plants has been attributed to the action of resistance (R) genes, including those encoding nucleotide binding site – leucine rich repeat (NBS-LRR) proteins and receptor-like kinase enzymes. This study describes the large-scale isolation and characterisation of candidate R genes from perennial ryegrass. The analysis was based on the availability of an expressed sequence tag (EST) resource and a functionally-integrated bioinformatics database.


Amplification of R gene sequences was performed using template EST data and information from orthologous candidate using a degenerate consensus PCR approach. A total of 102 unique partial R genes were cloned, sequenced and functionally annotated. Analysis of motif structure and R gene phylogeny demonstrated that Lolium R genes cluster with putative ortholoci, and evolved from common ancestral origins. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) predicted through resequencing of amplicons from the parental genotypes of a genetic mapping family were validated, and 26 distinct R gene loci were assigned to multiple genetic maps. Clusters of largely non-related NBS-LRR genes were located at multiple distinct genomic locations and were commonly found in close proximity to previously mapped defence response (DR) genes. A comparative genomics analysis revealed the co-location of several candidate R genes with disease resistance quantitative trait loci (QTLs).


This study is the most comprehensive analysis to date of qualitative disease resistance candidate genes in perennial ryegrass. SNPs identified within candidate genes provide a valuable resource for mapping in various ryegrass pair cross-derived populations and further germplasm analysis using association genetics. In parallel with the use of specific pathogen virulence races, such resources provide the means to identify gene-for-gene mechanisms for multiple host pathogen-interactions and ultimately to obtain durable field-based resistance.