The involvement of phospholipase C/diacylglycerol kinase (PLC/DGK)-mediated signalling in oxidative burst and hypersensitive cell death was studied in rice suspension-cultured cells treated with benzothiadiazole (BTH) and infected by Xanthomonas oryza pv. oryza (Xoo), the causal agent of rice leaf blight disease. Treatment of rice suspension cells with BTH resulted in a significant oxidative burst, as indicated by accumulation of superoxide anion and H(2)O(2), and hypersensitive cell death, as determined by Evans blue staining. A peak in oxidative burst was detected 3-4 h after BTH treatment and hypersensitive cell death was observed 8 h after treatment. In addition, significant oxidative burst and hypersensitive cell death were detected in BTH-treated suspension cells, but not in untreated control cells, after Xoo infection. Scavengers and antioxidants of active oxygen species, e.g., superoxide dismutase, catalase, N-acetylcysteine, and flavone, reduced significantly the BTH-induced oxidative burst and hypersensitive cell death, indicating that oxidative burst is required for BTH-induced hypersensitive cell death. Expression of the PLC/DGK pathway genes, a diacylglycerol kinase gene, OsDAGK1, and a phosphoinositide-specific phospholipase C gene, OsPI-PLC1, and a defence-related EREBP transcriptional factor gene, OsBIERF3, was activated in rice cells after BTH treatment and in the BTH-treated cells after Xoo infection. Treatment of rice cells with phosphatidic acid, a phospholipid signalling molecule, resulted in the production of oxidative burst and hypersensitive cell death. However, neomycin, a PLC inhibitor, inhibited partially but not completely the production of oxidative burst, hypersensitive cell death, and expression of OsBIERF3 and OsDAGK1 induced by BTH in rice cells. These results suggest that PLC/DGK-mediated signalling plays an important role in BTH-induced oxidative burst, hypersensitive response, and activation of defence response in rice.