Spot blotch, caused by the hemibiotropic fungus Bipolaris sorokiniana, is amongst the most damaging diseases of wheat. Still, natural variation in expression of biochemical traits that determine field resistance to spot blotch in wheat remain unaddressed. To understand how genotypic variations relate to metabolite profiles of the components of defense-signaling and the plant performance, as well as to discover novel sources of resistance against spot blotch, we have conducted field studies using 968 wheat genotypes at 5 geographical locations in South-Asia in 2 years. 46 genotypes were identified as resistant. Further, in independent confirmatory trials in subsequent 3 years, over 5 geographical locations, we re-characterized 55 genotypes for their resistance (above 46 along with Yangmai#6, a well characterized resistant genotype, and eight susceptible genotypes). We next determined time-dependent spot blotch-induced metabolite profiles of components of defense-signaling as well as levels of enzymatic components of defense pathway (such as salicylic acid (SA), phenolic acids, and redox components), and derived co-variation patterns with respect to resistance in these 55 genotypes. Spot blotch-induced SA accumulation was negatively correlated to disease progression. Amongst phenolic acids, syringic acid was most strongly inversely correlated to disease progression, indicating a defensive function, which was independently confirmed. Thus, exploring natural variation proved extremely useful in determining traits influencing phenotypic plasticity and adaptation to complex environments. Further, by overcoming environmental heterogeneity, our study identifies germplasmand biochemical traits that are deployable for spot blotch resistance in wheat along South-Asia.
Sharma, S., Sahu, R., Navathe, S., Mishra, V. K., Chand, R., Singh, P. K., … Pandey, S. P. (2018). Natural variation in elicitation of defense-signaling associates to field resistance against the spot blotch disease in bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Frontiers in Plant Science, 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2018.00636