Preformed expression of defense is a hallmark of partial resistance to rice blast fungal pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae

Vergne, Emilie; Grand, Xavier; Ballini, Elsa; Chalvon, Véronique; Saindrenan, P.; Tharreau, D.; Nottéghem, J.-L.; Morel, J.-B.
January 2010
BMC Plant Biology;2010, Vol. 10, p206
Academic Journal
Background: Partial resistance to plant pathogens is extensively used in breeding programs since it could contribute to resistance durability. Partial resistance often builds up during plant development and confers quantitative and usually broad-spectrum resistance. However, very little is known on the mechanisms underlying partial resistance. Partial resistance is often explained by poorly effective induction of plant defense systems. By exploring rice natural diversity, we asked whether expression of defense systems before infection could explain partial resistance towards the major fungal pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae. The constitutive expression of 21 defense-related genes belonging to the defense system was monitored in 23 randomly sampled rice cultivars for which partial resistance was measured. Results: We identified a strong correlation between the expression of defense-related genes before infection and partial resistance. Only a weak correlation was found between the induction of defense genes and partial resistance. Increasing constitutive expression of defense-related genes also correlated with the establishment of partial resistance during plant development. Some rice genetic sub-groups displayed a particular pattern of constitutive expression, suggesting a strong natural polymorphism for constitutive expression of defense. Constitutive levels of hormones like salicylic acid and ethylene cannot explain constitutive expression of defense. We could identify an area of the genome that contributes to explain both preformed defense and partial resistance. Conclusion: These results indicate that constitutive expression of defense-related genes is likely responsible for a large part of partial resistance in rice. The finding of this preformed defense system should help guide future breeding programs and open the possibility to identify the molecular mechanisms behind partial resistance.


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