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Septoria leaf blotch and reduced nitrogen availability alter WRKY transcription factor expression in a codependent manner.

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Alistair Poll, Dr Roy SandersonORCiD, Professor Angharad MR GatehouseORCiD, Dr Martin EdwardsORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


A major cause of yield loss in wheat worldwide is the fungal pathogen Zymoseptoria tritici, a hemibiotrophic fungus which causes Septoria leaf blotch, the most destructive wheat disease in Europe. Resistance in commercial wheat varieties is poor, however, a link between reduced nitrogen availability and increased Septoria tolerance has been observed. We have shown that Septoria load is not affected by nitrogen, whilst the fungus is in its first, symptomless stage of growth. This suggests that a link between nitrogen and Septoria is only present during the necrotrophic phase of Septoria infection. Quantitative real-time PCR data demonstrated that WRKYs, a superfamily of plant-specific transcription factors, are differentially expressed in response to both reduced nitrogen and Septoria. WRKY39 was downregulated over 30-fold in response to necrotrophic stage Septoria, whilst changes in the expression of WRKY68a during the late biotrophic phase were dependent on the concentration of nitrogen under which wheat is grown. WRKY68a may therefore mediate a link between nitrogen and Septoria. The potential remains to identify key regulators in the link between nitrogen and Septoria, and as such, elucidate molecular markers for wheat breeding, or targets for molecular-based breeding approaches.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Poll AA, Lee J, Sanderson RA, Byrne E, Gatehouse JA, Sadanandom A, Gatehouse AM, Edwards MG

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Molecular Sciences

Year: 2020

Volume: 21

Issue: 11

Print publication date: 11/06/2020

Online publication date: 11/06/2020

Acceptance date: 08/06/2020

Date deposited: 18/06/2020

ISSN (electronic): 1422-0067

Publisher: MDPI AG


DOI: 10.3390/ijms21114165


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