Epigenetic regulation of antagonistic receptors confers rice blast resistance with yield balance

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Science  02 Feb 2017:
DOI: 10.1126/science.aai8898

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Crop breeding aims to balance disease resistance with yield, however single resistance (R) genes can lead to resistance breakdown and R gene pyramiding may impact growth fitness. Here we report that the rice Pigm locus contains a cluster of genes encoding nucleotide-binding leucine-rich repeat (NLR) receptors that confer durable resistance to the fungus Magnaporthe oryzae without yield penalty. In the cluster, PigmR confers broad-spectrum resistance, whereas PigmS competitively attenuates PigmR homodimerization to suppress resistance. PigmS expression, and thus PigmR-mediated resistance, are subjected to tight epigenetic regulation. PigmS increases seed production to counteract the yield cost induced by PigmR. Therefore, our study reveals a mechanism balancing high disease resistance and yield through epigenetic regulation of paired antagonistic NLRs, providing a tool to develop elite crop varieties.

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