Global patterns of gene expression in rice cultivars undergoing a susceptible or resistant interaction with the parasitic plant Striga hermonthica


Author for correspondence:
Julie Scholes
Tel:+44 114 222 4780
Fax:+44 114 222 0002


  • • Striga hermonthica is a root hemiparasite of cereals that causes devastating loss of yield. Recently, a rice cultivar, Nipponbare, was discovered, which exhibits post-attachment resistance to this parasite and quantitative trait loci (QTL) associated with the resistance were identified.
  • • Changes in gene expression in susceptible (IAC 165) and resistant (Nipponbare) rice cultivars were profiled using rice whole-genome microarrays. In addition to a functional categorization of changes in gene expression, genes that were significantly up-regulated within resistance QTL were identified.
  • • The resistance reaction was characterized by up-regulation of defence genes, including pathogenesis-related proteins, pleiotropic drug resistance ABC transporters, genes involved in phenylpropanoid metabolism and WRKY transcription factors. These changes in gene expression resemble those associated with resistance to microbial pathogens. Three genes encoding proteins of unknown function, within a major resistance QTL on chromosome 12, were highly up-regulated and are excellent candidate resistance genes.
  • • The susceptible interaction was characterized by large-scale down-regulation of gene expression, particularly within the functional categories plant growth regulator signalling and metabolism, biogenesis of cellular components and cell division. Up-regulated genes included nutrient transporters, enzymes of amino acid metabolism and some abiotic stress genes.