Analysis of the transcriptomic, metabolomic, and gene regulatory responses to Puccinia sorghi in maize

Mol Plant Pathol. 2021 Apr;22(4):465-479. doi: 10.1111/mpp.13040. Epub 2021 Feb 28.

Abstract

Common rust, caused by Puccinia sorghi, is a widespread and destructive disease of maize. The Rp1-D gene confers resistance to the P. sorghi IN2 isolate, mediating a hypersensitive cell death response (HR). To identify differentially expressed genes (DEGs) and metabolites associated with the compatible (susceptible) interaction and with Rp1-D-mediated resistance in maize, we performed transcriptomics and targeted metabolome analyses of P. sorghi IN2-infected leaves from the near-isogenic lines H95 and H95:Rp1-D, which differed for the presence of Rp1-D. We observed up-regulation of genes involved in the defence response and secondary metabolism, including the phenylpropanoid, flavonoid, and terpenoid pathways. Metabolome analyses confirmed that intermediates from several transcriptionally up-regulated pathways accumulated during the defence response. We identified a common response in H95:Rp1-D and H95 with an additional H95:Rp1-D-specific resistance response observed at early time points at both transcriptional and metabolic levels. To better understand the mechanisms underlying Rp1-D-mediated resistance, we inferred gene regulatory networks occurring in response to P. sorghi infection. A number of transcription factors including WRKY53, BHLH124, NKD1, BZIP84, and MYB100 were identified as potentially important signalling hubs in the resistance-specific response. Overall, this study provides a novel and multifaceted understanding of the maize susceptible and resistance-specific responses to P. sorghi.

Keywords: Puccinia sorghi; RNA-Seq; common rust; gene regulatory network; maize.