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Leveraging RNA-Seq to Characterize Resistance to Brown Stem Rot and the Rbs3 Locus in Soybean

McCabe, Chantal E., Cianzio, Silvia R., O’Rourke, Jamie A., Graham, Michelle A.
Molecular plant-microbe interactions 2018 v.31 no.10 pp. 1083-1094
Cadophora gregata, DNA replication, crop yield, disease resistance, fungi, gene expression, gene expression regulation, gene regulatory networks, genotype, germplasm, homeostasis, iron, leaves, loci, pathogens, phenotype, proteins, reproductive performance, resistance genes, sequence analysis, single nucleotide polymorphism, soybeans, stem rot, tissues
Brown stem rot, caused by the fungus Phialophora gregata, reduces soybean yield by up to 38%. Although three dominant resistance loci have been identified (Rbs1 to Rbs3), the gene networks responsible for pathogen recognition and defense remain unknown. Further, identification and characterization of resistant and susceptible germplasm remains difficult. We conducted RNA-Seq of infected and mock-infected leaf, stem, and root tissues of a resistant (PI 437970, Rbs3) and susceptible (Corsoy 79) genotype. Combining historical mapping data with genotype expression differences allowed us to identify a cluster of receptor-like proteins that are candidates for the Rbs3 resistance gene. Reads mapping to the Rbs3 locus were used to identify potential novel single-nucleotide polymorphisms within candidate genes that could improve phenotyping and breeding efficiency. Comparing responses to infection revealed little overlap in differential gene expression between genotypes or tissues. Gene networks associated with defense, DNA replication, and iron homeostasis are hallmarks of resistance to P. gregata. This novel research demonstrates the utility of combining contrasting genotypes, gene expression, and classical genetic studies to characterize complex disease resistance loci.