Large-scale identification and functional analysis of NLR genes in blast resistance in the Tetep rice genome sequence.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 09 10; 116(37):18479-18487.PN
Tetep is a rice cultivar known for broad-spectrum resistance to blast, a devastating fungal disease. The molecular basis for its broad-spectrum resistance is still poorly understood. Is it because Tetep has many more NLR genes than other cultivars? Or does Tetep possess multiple major NLR genes that can individually confer broad-spectrum resistance to blast? Moreover, are there many interacting NLR pairs in the Tetep genome? We sequenced its genome, obtained a high-quality assembly, and annotated 455 nucleotide-binding site leucine-rich repeat (NLR) genes. We cloned and tested 219 NLR genes as transgenes in 2 susceptible cultivars using 5 to 12 diversified pathogen strains; in many cases, fewer than 12 strains were successfully cultured for testing. Ninety cloned NLRs showed resistance to 1 or more pathogen strains and each strain was recognized by multiple NLRs. However, few NLRs showed resistance to >6 strains, so multiple NLRs are apparently required for Tetep's broad-spectrum resistance to blast. This was further supported by the pedigree analyses, which suggested a correlation between resistance and the number of Tetep-derived NLRs. In developing a method to identify NLR pairs each of which functions as a unit, we found that >20% of the NLRs in the Tetep and 3 other rice genomes are paired. Finally, we designed an extensive set of molecular markers for rapidly introducing clustered and paired NLRs in the Tetep genome for breeding new resistant cultivars. This study increased our understanding of the genetic basis of broad-spectrum blast resistance in rice.