Plant immunity: Balancing disease resistance with reproduction
After researching for 15 years and analyzing more than 3,000 rice varieties, Chinese scientists revealed the novel mechanism involved in rice's defense against pathogens in the leading worldwide journal Cell, said the Center for Excellence in Molecular Plant Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Rice grain yield and quality are severely affected by various diseases; thus a major goal of rice breeding is to achieve broad-spectrum disease resistance without a reduction in yield.
The research team, led by He Zuhua, has made a great breakthrough regarding the molecular mechanisms that coordinate rice disease resistance and growth fitness.
They have discovered for the first time a novel calcium sensor, named ROD1 (resistance of rice to diseases 1), that balances rice immune homeostasis and inflorescence meristem growth. The mutation of ROD1 provides broad-spectrum resistance to fungal rice blast, sheath blight and bacterial blight. The identification of ROD1 may provide a possible solution for breeding disease resistance and protect crop yield in the future.
Their further analysis showed that natural ROD1 variance also exhibits enhanced resistance to rice sheath blight, one of major rice diseases in China, suggesting that ROD1 plays a fundamental role in controlling rice immunity.
The study reveals the plant host-pathogen convergence on immune suppression. ROD1 allows for both disease resistance and reproductive development, suggesting a new strategy for crop breeding, and it also provides evidence supporting the co-evolution between pathogen evolution and plant immune mechanisms.