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DNA methylation dynamics during the interaction of wheat progenitor Aegilops tauschii with the obligate biotrophic fungus Blumeria graminis f. sp. tritici

Geng, Shuaifeng, Kong, Xingchen, Song, Gaoyuan, Jia, Meiling, Guan, Jiantao, Wang, Fang, Qin, Zhengrui, Wu, Liang, Lan, Xiujin, Li, Aili, Mao, Long
Thenew phytologist 2019 v.221 no.2 pp. 1023-1035
Aegilops tauschii, Blumeria graminis f. sp. tritici, DNA methylation, Triticum aestivum, bisulfites, diploidy, disease resistance, fungi, gene silencing, genes, grasses, immunity, pathogenesis-related proteins, peroxidase, powdery mildew, sequence analysis, small interfering RNA, stress response, transposons, wheat
DNA methylation is dynamically involved in plant immunity, but little information is known about its roles in plant interactions with biotrophic fungi, especially in temperate grasses such as wheat (Triticum aestivum). Using wheat diploid progenitor Aegilops tauschii accession AL8/78, the genome of which has been sequenced, we assessed the extent of DNA methylation in response to infection with Blumeria graminis f. sp. tritici (Bgt), which causes powdery mildew. Upon Bgt infection, ARGONAUTE4a (AGO4a) was significantly downregulated in A. tauschii, which was accompanied by a substantial reduction in AGO4a‐sorted 24‐nt siRNA levels, especially for genes near transposable elements (TAGs). Bisulfite sequencing revealed abundant differentially methylated regions (DMRs) with CHH hypomethylation. TAGs bearing CHH‐hypomethylated DMRs were enriched for ‘response to stress’ functions, including receptor kinase, peroxidase, and pathogenesis‐related genes. Virus‐induced gene silencing (VIGS) of a DOMAINS REARRANGED METHYLASE 2 (DRM2) homolog enhanced plant resistance to Bgt. The effect of CHH hypomethylation was exemplified by the upregulation of a pathogenesis‐related β‐1,3‐glucanse gene implicated in Bgt defense. These findings support the idea that dynamic DNA methylation represents a regulatory layer in the complex mechanism of plant immunity, which could be exploited to improve disease resistance in common wheat.