RNA-seq reveals differentially expressed genes in rice (Oryza sativa) roots during interactions with plant-growth promoting bacteria, Azospirillum brasilense

PLoS One. 2019 May 23;14(5):e0217309. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0217309. eCollection 2019.


Major non-legume crops can form beneficial associations with nitrogen-fixing bacteria like Azospirillum brasilense. Our current understanding of the molecular aspects and signaling that occur between important crops like rice and these nitrogen-fixing bacteria is limited. In this study, we used an experimental system where the bacteria could colonize the plant roots and promote plant growth in wild type rice and symbiotic mutants (dmi3 and pollux) in rice. Our data suggest that plant growth promotion and root penetration is not dependent on these genes. We then used this colonization model to identify regulation of gene expression at two different time points during this interaction: at 1day post inoculation (dpi), we identified 1622 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in rice roots, and at 14dpi, we identified 1995 DEGs. We performed a comprehensive data mining to classify the DEGs into the categories of transcription factors (TFs), protein kinases (PKs), and transporters (TRs). Several of these DEGs encode proteins that are involved in the flavonoid biosynthetic pathway, defense, and hormone signaling pathways. We identified genes that are involved in nitrate and sugar transport and are also implicated to play a role in other plant-microbe interactions. Overall, findings from this study will serve as an excellent resource to characterize the host genetic pathway controlling the interactions between non-legumes and beneficial bacteria which can have long-term implications towards sustainably improving agriculture.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Azospirillum brasilense / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genes, Plant
  • Host Microbial Interactions / genetics
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation
  • Oryza / genetics*
  • Oryza / growth & development
  • Oryza / microbiology*
  • Plant Roots / genetics
  • Plant Roots / growth & development
  • Plant Roots / microbiology
  • RNA, Plant / genetics
  • RNA-Seq
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Symbiosis / genetics


  • RNA, Plant