Conserved defense responses between maize and sorghum to Exserohilum turcicum

Xiaoyue Zhang, Samuel B. Fernandes, Christopher Kaiser, Pragya Adhikari, Patrick J. Brown, Santiago X. Mideros, Tiffany M. Jamann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Exserohilum turcicum is an important pathogen of both sorghum and maize, causing sorghum leaf blight and northern corn leaf blight. Because the same pathogen can infect and cause major losses for two of the most important grain crops, it is an ideal pathosystem to study plant-pathogen evolution and investigate shared resistance mechanisms between the two plant species. To identify sorghum genes involved in the E. turcicum response, we conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS). Results: Using the sorghum conversion panel evaluated across three environments, we identified a total of 216 significant markers. Based on physical linkage with the significant markers, we detected a total of 113 unique candidate genes, some with known roles in plant defense. Also, we compared maize genes known to play a role in resistance to E. turcicum with the association mapping results and found evidence of genes conferring resistance in both crops, providing evidence of shared resistance between maize and sorghum. Conclusions: Using a genetics approach, we identified shared genetic regions conferring resistance to E. turcicum in both maize and sorghum. We identified several promising candidate genes for resistance to leaf blight in sorghum, including genes related to R-gene mediated resistance. We present significant advancements in the understanding of host resistance to E. turcicum, which is crucial to reduce losses due to this important pathogen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number67
JournalBMC Plant Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 10 2020


  • Exserohilum turcicum
  • Genome-wide association mapping
  • Northern corn leaf blight
  • Quantitative disease resistance
  • Setosphaeria turcica
  • Sorghum
  • Sorghum leaf blight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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