J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2015, Vol. 57 ›› Issue (6): 577-590.DOI: 10.1111/jipb.12299

• Plant-environmental Interactions • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Infection of Ustilaginoidea virens intercepts rice seed formation but activates grain-filling-related genes

Jing Fan1†, Xiao-Yi Guo1†, Liang Li1†, Fu Huang2, Wen-Xian Sun3, Yan Li1, Yan-Yan Huang1, Yong-Ju Xu1, Jun Shi2, Yang Lei1, Ai-Ping Zheng1 and Wen-Ming Wang1*   

  1. 1Rice Research Institute, Sichuan Agricultural University, Chengdu, China
    2College of Agronomy, Sichuan Agricultural University, Chengdu, China
    3Department of Plant Pathology, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China
  • Received:2014-06-27 Accepted:2014-10-14 Published:2014-10-16
  • About author:These authors contributed equally to this work.
    *Correspondence: E-mail: j316wenmingwang@sicau.edu.cn


Rice false smut has become an increasingly serious disease in rice (Oryza sativa L.) production worldwide. The typical feature of this disease is that the fungal pathogen Ustilaginoidea virens (Uv) specifically infects rice flower and forms false smut ball, the ustiloxin-containing ball-like fungal colony, of which the size is usually several times larger than that of a mature rice seed. However, the underlying mechanisms of Uv-rice interaction are poorly understood. Here, we applied time-course microscopic and transcriptional approaches to investigate rice responses to Uv infection. The results demonstrated that the flower-opening process and expression of associated transcription factors, including ARF6 and ARF8, were inhibited in Uv-infected spikelets. The ovaries in infected spikelets were interrupted in fertilization and thus were unable to set seeds. However, a number of grain-filling-related genes, including seed storage protein genes, starch anabolism genes and endosperm-specific transcription factors (RISBZ1 and RPBF), were highly transcribed as if the ovaries were fertilized. In addition, critical defense-related genes like NPR1 and PR1 were downregulated by Uv infection. Our data imply that Uv may hijack host nutrient reservoir by activation of the grain-filling network because of growth and formation of false smut balls.


Fan J, Guo XY, Li L, Huang F, Sun WX, Li Y, Huang YY, Xu YJ, Shi J, Lei Y, Zheng AP, Wang WM (2015) Infection of Ustilaginoidea virens intercepts rice seed formation but activates grain-filling-related genes. J Integr Plant Biol 57: 577–590. doi: 10.1111/jipb.12299

Key words: Flower-infecting, grain filling, microscopy, rice false smut, RNA-Seq

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