Rice lesion mimic mutants with enhanced resistance to diseases

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Lesion mimic mutants are characterized by the formation of necrotic lesions in the absence of pathogens. Such genetic defects often result in enhanced resistance to pathogen infection and constitutive expression of defense response genes. To understand the genetic mechanisms leading to these mutations, we characterized 21 lesion mimic mutants isolated from IR64 rice mutant populations produced by mutagenesis with diepoxybutane (D), gamma rays (G), and fast neutrons (F). Four mutations are controlled by single dominant genes, one of which is inherited maternally. Five lesion mimics are allelic to known spotted leaf (spl) mutants spl1, spl2, spl3, or spl6. In total, 11 new lesion mimic mutations, named spl16, spl17, and spl19 through Spl27, were established based on allelism tests. Two lesion mimics, spl17 and Spl26 showed enhanced resistance to multiple strains of Magnaporthe oryzae, the rice blast pathogen, and Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae, the bacterial blight (BB) pathogen. Co-segregation analyses of blast and BB resistance and lesion mimic phenotypes in segregating populations of spl17 and Spl26 indicate that enhanced resistance to the two diseases is conferred by mutations in the lesion mimic genes. A double mutant produced from two independent lesion mimics showed more severe lesions and higher level of resistance to X. o. pv. oryzae than their single mutant parents indicating a synergistic effect of the two mutations. In mutants that exhibit enhanced disease resistance to both pathogens, increases in expression of defense response genes PR-10a, POX22.3, and PO-C1 were correlated with lesion mimic development and enhancement of resistance. These lesion mimic mutants may provide essential materials for a comprehensive dissection of the disease resistance pathways in rice.

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