Transcriptome analysis of sugarcane reveals rapid defense response of SES208 to Xanthomonas albilineans in early infection

Yaying Ma, Hongying Yu, Yijing Lu, Sanji Gao, Mahpara Fatima, Ray Ming, Jingjing Yue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Diseases are the major factor affecting the quality and yield of sugarcane during its growth and development. However, our knowledge about the factors regulating disease responses remain limited. The present study focuses on identifying genes regulating transcriptional mechanisms responsible for resistance to leaf scald caused by Xanthomonas albilineans in S. spontaneum and S. officinarum. Results: After inoculation of the two sugarcane varieties SES208 (S. spontaneum) and LA Purple (S. officinarum) with Xanthomonas albilineans, SES208 exhibited significantly greater resistance to leaf scald caused by X. albilineans than did LA Purple. Using transcriptome analysis, we identified a total of 4323 and 1755 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in inoculated samples of SES208 and LA Purple, respectively. Significantly, 262 DEGs were specifically identified in SES208 that were enriched for KEGG pathway terms such as plant-pathogen interaction, MAPK signaling pathway, and plant hormone signal transduction. Furthermore, we built a transcriptional regulatory co-expression network that specifically identified 16 and 25 hub genes in SES208 that were enriched for putative functions in plant-pathogen interactions, MAPK signaling, and plant hormone signal transduction. All of these essential genes might be significantly involved in resistance-regulating responses in SES208 after X. albilineans inoculation. In addition, we found allele-specific expression in SES208 that was associated with the resistance phenotype of SES208 when infected by X. albilineans. After infection with X. albilineans, a great number of DEGs associated with the KEGG pathways ‘phenylpropanoid biosynthesis’ and ‘flavonoid biosynthesis’ exhibited significant expression changes in SES208 compared to LA Purple that might contribute to superior leaf scald resistance in SES208. Conclusions: We provided the first systematical transcriptome map that the higher resistance of SES208 is associated with and elicited by the rapid activation of multiple clusters of defense response genes after infection by X. albilineans and not merely due to changes in the expression of genes generically associated with stress resistance. These results will serve as the foundation for further understanding of the molecular mechanisms of resistance against X. albilineans in S. spontaneum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number52
JournalBMC Plant Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Disease resistance
  • Leaf scald
  • RNA-Seq
  • Saccharum spp
  • Xanthomonas albilineans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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