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Silicon protects soybean plants against Phytophthora sojae by interfering with effector-receptor expression

Rasoolizadeh, Aliyeh, Labbé, Caroline, Sonah, Humira, Deshmukh, Rupesh K., Belzile, François, Menzies, James G., Bélanger, Richard R.
BMC plant biology 2018 v.18 no.1 pp. 97
Glycine max, Phytophthora sojae, apoplast, genes, mechanism of action, pathogenesis-related proteins, plant pathogens, receptors, roots, silicon, soybeans, transcriptomics, virulence
BACKGROUND: Silicon (Si) is known to protect against biotrophic and hemibiotrophic plant pathogens; however, the mechanisms by which it exerts its prophylactic role remain unknown. In an attempt to obtain unique insights into the mode of action of Si, we conducted a full comparative transcriptomic analysis of soybean (Glycine max) plants and Phytophthora sojae, a hemibiotroph that relies heavily on effectors for its virulence. RESULTS: Supplying Si to inoculated plants provided a strong protection against P. sojae over the course of the experiment (21 day). Our results showed that the response of Si-free (Si⁻) plants to inoculation was characterized early (4 dpi) by a high expression of defense-related genes, including plant receptors, which receded over time as the pathogen progressed into the roots. The infection was synchronized with a high expression of effectors by P. sojae, the nature of which changed over time. By contrast, the transcriptomic response of Si-fed (Si⁺) plants was remarkably unaffected by the presence of P. sojae, and the expression of effector-coding genes by the pathogen was significantly reduced. CONCLUSION: Given that the apoplast is a key site of interaction between effectors and plant defenses and receptors in the soybean-P. sojae complex, as well as the site of amorphous-Si accumulation, our results indicate that Si likely interferes with the signaling network between P. sojae and the plant, preventing or decreasing the release of effectors reaching plant receptors, thus creating a form of incompatible interaction.