Phytophthora sojae is the primary pathogen of soybeans that are grown on poorly drained soils. Race-specific resistance to P. sojae in soybean is gene-for-gene, although in many areas of the US and worldwide there are populations that have adapted to the most commonly deployed resistance to P. sojae ( Rps) genes. Hence, this system has received increased attention towards identifying mechanisms and molecular markers associated with partial resistance to this pathogen. Several quantitative trait loci (QTL) have been identified in the soybean cultivar ‘Conrad’ that contributes to the expression of partial resistance to multiple P. sojae isolates.
In this study, two of the Conrad QTL on chromosome 19 were dissected through sequence and expression analysis of genes in both resistant (Conrad) and susceptible (‘Sloan’) genotypes. There were 1025 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 87 of 153 genes sequenced from Conrad and Sloan. There were 304 SNPs in 54 genes sequenced from Conrad compared to those from both Sloan and Williams 82, of which 11 genes had SNPs unique to Conrad. Eleven of 19 genes in these regions analyzed with qRT-PCR had significant differences in fold change of transcript abundance in response to infection with P. sojae in lines with QTL haplotype from the resistant parent compared to those with the susceptible parent haplotype. From these, 8 of the 11 genes had SNPs in the upstream, untranslated region, exon, intron, and/or downstream region. These 11 candidate genes encode proteins potentially involved in signal transduction, hormone-mediated pathways, plant cell structural modification, ubiquitination, and basal resistance.
These findings may indicate a complex defense network with multiple mechanisms underlying these two soybean QTL conferring resistance to P. sojae. SNP markers derived from these candidate genes can contribute to fine mapping of QTL and marker assisted breeding for resistance to P. sojae.