Infection of Brachypodium distachyon by Formae Speciales of Puccinia graminis: Early Infection Events and Host-Pathogen Incompatibility

Melania Figueroa, Stephen Alderman, David F. Garvin, William F. Pfender

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Puccinia graminis causes stem rust, a serious disease of cereals and forage grasses. Important formae speciales of P. graminis and their typical hosts are P. graminis f. sp. tritici (Pg-tr) in wheat and barley, P. graminis f. sp. lolii (Pg-lo) in perennial ryegrass and tall fescue, and P. graminis f. sp. phlei-pratensis (Pg-pp) in timothy grass. Brachypodium distachyon is an emerging genetic model to study fungal disease resistance in cereals and temperate grasses. We characterized the P. graminis-Brachypodium pathosystem to evaluate its potential for investigating incompatibility and non-host resistance to P. graminis. Inoculation of eight Brachypodium inbred lines with Pg-tr, Pg-lo or Pg-pp resulted in sporulating lesions later accompanied by necrosis. Histological analysis of early infection events in one Brachypodium inbred line (Bd1-1) indicated that Pg-lo and Pg-pp were markedly more efficient than Pg-tr at establishing a biotrophic interaction. Formation of appressoria was completed (60-70% of germinated spores) by 12 h post-inoculation (hpi) under dark and wet conditions, and after 4 h of subsequent light exposure fungal penetration structures (penetration peg, substomatal vesicle and primary infection hyphae) had developed. Brachypodium Bd1-1 exhibited pre-haustorial resistance to Pg-tr, i.e. infection usually stopped at appressorial formation. By 68 hpi, only 0.3% and 0.7% of the Pg-tr urediniospores developed haustoria and colonies, respectively. In contrast, development of advanced infection structures by Pg-lo and Pg-pp was significantly more common; however, Brachypodium displayed post-haustorial resistance to these isolates. By 68 hpi the percentage of urediniospores that only develop a haustorium mother cell or haustorium in Pg-lo and Pg-pp reached 8% and 5%, respectively. The formation of colonies reached 14% and 13%, respectively. We conclude that Brachypodium is an apt grass model to study the molecular and genetic components of incompatiblity and non-host resistance to P. graminis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere56857
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 18 2013


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