Iron boosts rice immune system

Researchers from the Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG) have successfully shown that iron treatment helps increase the resistance against rice blast fungus and activate the plant’s immune response against the pathogen.

A study published in the Rice journal reveals that exposing rice plants to moderately high levels of iron increases resistance to infection by the pathogenic fungus Magnaporthe oryzae, the agent causing rice blast, the most common disease in rice responsible for large production losses worldwide.

Using RNA sequencing methods, the research team detected the activation of several genes related to plant defenses when rice was treated with iron for a short period of time. In addition, the presence of iron increases the expression of genes related to the generation of phytoalexins, molecules with antifungal activity which are able to inhibit the growth of M. oryzae. When infected, the leaves of plants treated with iron show an accumulation of both reactive oxygen species (ROS) and iron in specific and localized regions of the infected leaf, which correspond to the pathogen’s entry points. This triggers ferroptosis, or programmed cell death in plant cells, which limits the progression of the fungus in the infected tissue, allowing the plant to control the infection by itself.

Sánchez-Sanuy F, Mateluna-Cuadra R, Tomita K, Okada K, Sacchi GA, Campo S, San Segundo B. Iron Induces Resistance Against the Rice Blast Fungus Magnaporthe oryzae Through Potentiation of Immune Responses. Rice, 25 Dec 2022; 15(1):68 (DOI:  10.1186/s12284-022-00609-w)

Source: Crop Biotech Update

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