Antagonistic, overlapping and distinct responses to biotic stress in rice (Oryza sativa) and interactions with abiotic stress

Reena Narsai, Chuang Wang, Jie Chen, Jianli Wu, Huixia Shou, James Whelan
BMC Genomics 2013 February 12, 14: 93

BACKGROUND: Every year, substantial crop loss occurs globally, as a result of bacterial, fungal, parasite and viral infections in rice. Here, we present an in-depth investigation of the transcriptomic response to infection with the destructive bacterial pathogen Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae(Xoo) in both resistant and susceptible varieties of Oryza sativa. A comparative analysis to fungal, parasite and viral infection in rice is also presented.

RESULTS: Within 24 h of Xoo inoculation, significant reduction of cell wall components and induction of several signalling components, membrane bound receptor kinases and specific WRKY and NAC transcription factors was prominent, providing a framework for how the presence of this pathogen was signalled and response mounted. Extensive comparative analyses of various other pathogen responses, including in response to infection with another bacterium (Xoc), resistant and susceptible parasite infection, fungal, and viral infections, led to a proposed model for the rice biotic stress response. In this way, a conserved induction of calcium signalling functions, and specific WRKY and NAC transcription factors, was identified in response to all biotic stresses. Comparison of these responses to abiotic stress (cold, drought, salt, heat), enabled the identification of unique genes responsive only to bacterial infection, 240 genes responsive to both abiotic and biotic stress, and 135 genes responsive to biotic, but not abiotic stresses. Functional significance of a number of these genes, using genetic inactivation or over-expression, has revealed significant stress-associated phenotypes. While only a few antagonistic responses were observed between biotic and abiotic stresses, e.g. for a number of endochitinases and kinase encoding genes, some of these may be crucial in explaining greater pathogen infection and damage under abiotic stresses.

CONCLUSIONS: The analyses presented here provides a global view of the responses to multiple stresses, further validates known resistance-associated genes, and highlights new potential target genes, some lineage specific to rice, that play important roles in response to stress, providing a roadmap to develop varieties of rice that are more resistant to multiple biotic and abiotic stresses, as encountered in nature.

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