Hybrid Performance and Immunity


Group Interests

Our central efforts in the area of natural variation revolve around fitness tradeoffs in immunity. Several years ago, we introduced Arabidopsis thaliana as a model for hybrid necrosis, a syndrome that is characterized by activation of the immune system due to inappropriate self-recognition in the progeny of crosses among natural accessions. From a systematic analysis of thousands of crosses, we have identified dozens of hybrid necrosis cases. A main insight from cloning the causal genes for many of these has been that many loci encode highly polymorphic NLR immune receptor genes (which include the major disease resistance or R genes in plants). Our working hypothesis is that the obvious cases that we have investigated so far are only the tip of the incompatibility iceberg, and that more subtle interactions among components of the immune system have a major impact on fitness of plants in the absence of pathogens. To test this hypothesis, we are both extending our genetic analyses and we are systematically reconstructing the full NLR complement of accessions. 

Of continued interest is also the ACD6 locus for which we have identified hybrid necrosis variants that both compromise growth and activate the immune system on their own. We are studying natural modifiers to decipher the molecular pathways underlying this growth-immunity tradeoff in different accessions.

  • Large-scale genetic analyses of intra-immune system conflict
  • Genetic modifiers of hyperactive immune systems in inbred accessions
  • Diversity of NLR genes and gene clusters in Arabidopsis thaliana

Collaboration Partners



Activation of a Plant NLR Complex through Heteromeric Association with an Autoimmune Risk Variant of Another NLR

Tran D. T. N., Chung E. H., Habring-Muller A., Demar M., Schwab R., Dangl J. L., Weigel D. and Chae E.
Curr Biol
(2017), 27(8) 1148-60.

Cooperation and Conflict in the Plant Immune System

Chae E., Tran D. T. and Weigel D.
PLoS Pathog
(2016), 12(3) e1005452.

Activation of the Arabidopsis thaliana immune system by combinations of common ACD6 alleles

Todesco M., Kim S. T., Chae E., Bomblies K., Zaidem M., Smith L. M., Weigel D. and Laitinen R. A.
PLoS Genet
(2014), 10(7) e1004459.

Different mechanisms for Arabidopsis thaliana hybrid necrosis cases inferred from temperature responses

Muralidharan S., Box M. S., Sedivy E. L., Wigge P. A., Weigel D. and Rowan B. A.
Plant Biol (Stuttg)
(2014), 16(6) 1033-41.

Species-wide Genetic Incompatibility Analysis Identifies Immune Genes as Hot Spots of Deleterious Epistasis

Chae E., Bomblies K., Kim S. T., Karelina D., Zaidem M., Ossowski S., Martin-Pizarro C., Laitinen R. A., Rowan B. A., Tenenboim H., Lechner S., Demar M., Habring-Muller A., Lanz C., Ratsch G. and Weigel D.
(2014), 159(6) 1341-51.

On epigenetics and epistasis: hybrids and their non-additive interactions

Smith L. M. and Weigel D.
(2012), 31(2) 249-50.

Complex evolutionary events at a tandem cluster of Arabidopsis thaliana genes resulting in a single-locus genetic incompatibility

Smith L. M., Bomblies K. and Weigel D.
PLoS Genet
(2011), 7(7) e1002164.

Local-scale patterns of genetic variability, outcrossing, and spatial structure in natural stands of Arabidopsis thaliana

Bomblies K., Yant L., Laitinen R. A., Kim S. T., Hollister J. D., Warthmann N., Fitz J. and Weigel D.
PLoS Genet
(2010), 6(3) e1000890.

Natural allelic variation underlying a major fitness trade-off in Arabidopsis thaliana

Todesco M., Balasubramanian S., Hu T. T., Traw M. B., Horton M., Epple P., Kuhns C., Sureshkumar S., Schwartz C., Lanz C., Laitinen R. A., Huang Y., Chory J., Lipka V., Borevitz J. O., Dangl J. L., Bergelson J., Nordborg M. and Weigel D.
(2010), 465(7298) 632-6.

Autoimmune response as a mechanism for a Dobzhansky-Muller-type incompatibility syndrome in plants

Bomblies K., Lempe J., Epple P., Warthmann N., Lanz C., Dangl J. L. and Weigel D.
PLoS Biol
(2007), 5(9) e236.

Hybrid necrosis: autoimmunity as a potential gene-flow barrier in plant species

Bomblies K. and Weigel D.
Nat Rev Genet
(2007), 8(5) 382-93.