Zoysiagrass (Zoysia japonica) is a popular turfgrass species and is widely used for sport turf and urban landscape. Zoysiagrass is often infected by Puccinia zoysiae, which causes a loss in turf quality. The physiological and molecular mechanisms of rust resistance are poorly understood in this species. In this study, the rust-resistant and susceptible lines of zoysiagrass were inoculated with P. zoysiae, and alterations of leaf cell structure, physiological indicators and transcriptomic response were investigated at the various stages of inoculation. After inoculation, the cell membranes, nucleus, mitochondria, and chloroplast were all impaired, followed by abnormal physiological metabolism. The damage occurred earlier and more severely in the susceptible line. Changes in electrolyte leakage and chlorophyll content varied with the genotype and the inoculation stages. The transcriptome analysis showed that plant hormones, MAPK signal transduction pathway, photosynthesis and energy generation pathways were significantly enriched in the early response, in both the resistant and susceptible lines. The results provided insights into the physiological and molecular mechanisms of rust disease resistance and would benefit the breeding of rust-resistant varieties in zoysiagrass and related turfgrass species.
Keywords: RNA-seq; photosynthesis; resistance mechanism; rust disease; zoysiagrass.