The barley leaf rust resistance gene Rph3 encodes a predicted membrane protein and is induced upon infection by avirulent pathotypes of Puccinia hordei

Leaf rust, caused by Puccinia hordei, is an economically significant disease of barley, but only a few major resistance genes to P. hordei (Rph) have been cloned. In this study, gene Rph3 was isolated by positional cloning and confirmed by mutational analysis and transgenic complementation. The Rph3 gene, which originated from wild barley and was first introgressed into cultivated Egyptian germplasm, encodes a unique predicted transmembrane resistance protein that differs from all known plant disease resistance proteins at the amino acid sequence level. Genetic profiles of diverse accessions indicated limited genetic diversity in Rph3 in domesticated germplasm, and higher diversity in wild barley from the Eastern Mediterranean region. The Rph3 gene was expressed only in interactions with Rph3-avirulent P. hordei isolates, a phenomenon also observed for transcription activator-like effector-dependent genes known as executors conferring resistance to Xanthomonas spp. Like known transmembrane executors such as Bs3 and Xa7, heterologous expression of Rph3 in N. benthamiana induced a cell death response. The isolation of Rph3 highlights convergent evolutionary processes in diverse plant-pathogen interaction systems, where similar defence mechanisms evolved independently in monocots and dicots.