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Wheat gene Sr60 encodes a protein with two putative kinase domains that confers resistance to stem rust

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Wheat stem rust, caused by Puccinia graminis Pers. f. sp. tritici (Pgt), is a devastating fungal disease threatening global wheat production. The present paper reports the identification of stem rust resistance gene Sr60, a race-specific gene from diploid wheat Triticum monococcum L. that encodes a protein with two putative kinase domains. This gene, designated as WHEAT TANDEM KINASE 2 (WTK2), confers intermediate levels of resistance to Pgt. WTK2 was identified by map-based cloning and validated by transformation of a c.10-kb genomic sequence including WTK2 into susceptible common wheat variety Fielder (Triticum aestivum L.). Transformation of Fielder with WTK2 was sufficient to confer Pgt resistance. Sr60 transcripts were transiently upregulated 1 d post-inoculation with Pgt, but not in mock-inoculated plants. The upregulation of Sr60 was associated with stable upregulation of several pathogenesis-related genes. The Sr60-resistant haplotype found in T. monococcum was not found in polyploid wheat, suggesting an opportunity to introduce a novel resistance gene. Sr60 was successfully introgressed into hexaploid wheat, and we developed a diagnostic molecular marker to accelerate its deployment and pyramiding with other resistance genes. The cloned Sr60 also can be a useful component of transgenic cassettes including other resistance genes with complementary resistance profiles.

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