Pyropia yezoensis, one of the most economically important marine algae, suffers from the biotic stress of the oomycete necrotrophic pathogen Pythium porphyrae. However, little is known about the molecular defensive mechanisms employed by Pyr. yezoensis during the infection process. In the present study, we defined three stages of red rot disease based on histopathological features and photosynthetic physiology. Transcriptomic analysis was carried out at different stages of infection to identify the genes related to the innate immune system in Pyr. yezoensis. In total, 2139 up-regulated genes and 1672 down-regulated genes were identified from all the infected groups. Pathogen receptor genes, including three lectin genes (pattern recognition receptors (PRRs)) and five genes encoding typical plant R protein domains (leucine rich repeat (LRR), nucleotide binding site (NBS), or Toll/interleukin-1 receptor (TIR)), were found to be up-regulated after infection. Several defense mechanisms that were typically regarded as PAMP-triggered immunity (PTI) in plants were induced during the infection. These included defensive and protective enzymes, heat shock proteins, secondary metabolites, cellulase, and protease inhibitors. As a part of the effector-triggered immunity (ETI), the expression of genes related to the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) and hypersensitive cell death response (HR) increased significantly during the infection. The current study suggests that, similar to plants, Pyr. yezoensis possesses a conserved innate immune system that counters the invasion of necrotrophic pathogen Pyt. porphyrae. However, the innate immunity genes of Pyr. yezoensis appear to be more ancient in origin compared to those in higher plants.
Keywords: Pyropia yezoensis; Pythium porphyrae; Transcriptome; infection; innate immune systems.