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Chao J, Jin J, Wang D, Han R, Zhu R, et al. (2014) Cytological and Transcriptional Dynamics Analysis of Host Plant Revealed Stage-Specific Biological Processes Related to Compatible Rice-Ustilaginoidea virens Interaction. PLoS ONE 9(3): e91391. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0091391


Copyright 2014 Chao et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. Used by permission.


Rice false smut, a fungal disease caused by Ustilaginoidea virens is becoming a severe detriment to rice production worldwide. However, little is known about the molecular response of rice to attacks by the smut pathogen. In this article, we define the initial infection process as having three stages: initial colonization on the pistil (stage 1, S1), amplification on the anther (stage 2, S2) and sporulation in the anther chambers (stage 3, S3). Based on the transcriptome of rice hosts in response to U. virens in two separate years, we identified 126, 204, and 580 specific regulated genes in their respective stages S1, S2, and S3, respectively, by excluding common expression patterns in other openly biotic/abiotic databases using bioinformatics. As the disease progresses, several stage-specific biological processes (BP) terms were distinctively enriched: ‘‘Phosphorylation’’ in stage S1, ‘‘PCD’’ in S2, and ‘‘Cell wall biogenesis’’ in S3, implying a concise signal cascade indicative of the tactics that smut pathogens use to control host rice cells during infection. 113 regulated genes were coexpressed among the three stages. They shared highly conserved promoter cis-element in the promoters in response to the regulation of WRKY and Myb for up-regulation, and ABA and Ca2+ for down regulation, indicating their potentially critical roles in signal transduction during rice-U. virens interaction. We further analyzed seven highly regulated unique genes; four were specific to pollen development, implying that pollen-related genes play critical roles in the establishment of rice susceptibility to U. virens. To my knowledge, this is the first report about probing of molecular response of rice to smut pathogen infection, which will greatly expand our understanding of the molecular events surrounding infection by rice false smut.