Silicon (Si) plays a pivotal role in the nutritional status of a wide variety of monocot and dicot plant species and helps them, whether directly or indirectly, counteract abiotic and/or biotic stresses. In general, plants with a high root or shoot Si concentration are less prone to pest attack and exhibit enhanced tolerance to abiotic stresses such as drought, low temperature, or metal toxicity. However, the most remarkable effect of Si is the reduction in the intensities of a number of seedborne, soilborne, and foliar diseases in many economically important crops that are caused by biotrophic, hemibiotrophic, and necrotrophic plant pathogens. The reduction in disease symptom expression is due to the effect of Si on some components of host resistance, including incubation period, lesion size, and lesion number. The mechanical barrier formed by the polymerization of Si beneath the cuticle and in the cell walls was the first proposed hypothesis to explain how this element reduced the severity of plant diseases. However, new insights have revealed that many plant species supplied with Si have the phenylpropanoid and terpenoid pathways potentiated and have a faster and stronger transcription of defense genes and higher activities of defense enzymes. Photosynthesis and the antioxidant system are also improved for Si-supplied plants. Although the current understanding of how this overlooked element improves plant reaction against pathogen infections, pest attacks, and abiotic stresses has advanced, the exact mechanism(s) by which it modulates plant physiology through the potentiation of host defense mechanisms still needs further investigation at the genomic, metabolomic, and proteomic levels.
Although several reports underscore the importance of silicon (Si) in controlling Magnaporthe grisea on rice, no study has associated this beneficial effect with specific mechanisms of host defense responses against this fungal attack. In this study, however, we provide evidence that higher levels of momilactone phytoalexins were found in leaf extracts from plants inoculated with M. grisea and amended with silicon (Si(+)) than in leaf extracts from inoculated plants not amended with silicon (Si(-) ) or noninoculated Si(+) and Si(-) plants. On this basis, the more efficient stimulation of the terpenoid pathway in Si(+) plants and, consequently, the increase in the levels of momilactones appears to be a factor contributing to enhanced rice resistance to blast. This may explain the lower level of blast severity observed on leaves of Si(+) plants at 96 h after inoculation with M. grisea. The results of this study strongly suggest that Si plays an active role in the resistance of rice to blast rather than the formation of a physical barrier to penetration by M. grisea.
Although exogenous application of silicon (Si) confers efficient control of rice blast, the probable hypothesis underlying this phenomenon has been confined to that of a mechanical barrier resulting from Si polymerization in planta. However, in this study, we provide the first cytological evidence that Si-mediated resistance to Magnaporthe grisea in rice correlates with specific leaf cell reaction that interfered with the development of the fungus. Accumulation of an amorphous material that stained densely with toluidine blue and reacted positively to osmium tetroxide was a typical feature of cell reaction to infection by M. grisea in samples from Si+ plants. As a result, the extent of fungal colonization was markedly reduced in samples from Si+ plants. In samples from Si- plants, M. grisea grew actively and colonized all leaf tissues. Cytochemi-cal labeling of chitin revealed no difference in the pattern of chitin localization over fungal cell walls of either Si+ or Si- plants at 96 h after inoculation, indicating limited production of chitinases by the rice plant as a mechanism of defense response. On the other hand, the occurrence of empty fungal hyphae, surrounded or trapped in amorphous material, in samples from Si+ plants suggests that phenolic-like compounds or phytoalexins played a primary role in rice defense response against infection by M. grisea. This finding brings new insights into the complex role played by Si in the nature of rice blast resistance.
The devastating wheat blast disease first emerged in Brazil in 1985. The disease was restricted to South America until 2016, when a series of grain imports from Brazil led to a wheat blast outbreak in Bangladesh. Wheat blast is caused by Pyricularia graminis-tritici ( Pygt), a species genetically distinct from the Pyricularia oryzae species that causes rice blast. Pygt has high genetic and phenotypic diversity and a broad host range that enables it to move back and forth between wheat and other grass hosts. Recombination is thought to occur mainly on the other grass hosts, giving rise to the highly diverse Pygt population observed in wheat fields. This review brings together past and current knowledge about the history, etiology, epidemiology, physiology, and genetics of wheat blast and discusses the future need for integrated management strategies. The most urgent current need is to strengthen quarantine and biosafety regulations to avoid additional spread of the pathogen to disease-free countries. International breeding efforts will be needed to develop wheat varieties with more durable resistance.
SummarySilicon (Si) is not considered to be an essential element for higher plants and is believed to have no effect on primary metabolism in unstressed plants. In rice (Oryza sativa), Si nutrition improves grain production; however, no attempt has been made to elucidate the physiological mechanisms underlying such responses.Here, we assessed crop yield and combined advanced gas exchange analysis with carbon isotope labelling and metabolic profiling to measure the effects of Si nutrition on rice photosynthesis, together with the associated metabolic changes, by comparing wild-type rice with the low-Si rice mutant lsi1 under unstressed conditions.Si improved the harvest index, paralleling an increase in nitrogen use efficiency. Higher crop yields associated with Si nutrition exerted a feed-forward effect on photosynthesis which was fundamentally associated with increased mesophyll conductance. By contrast, Si nutrition did not affect photosynthetic gas exchange during the vegetative growth phase or in de-grained plants. In addition, Si nutrition altered primary metabolism by stimulating amino acid remobilization.Our results indicate a stimulation of the source capacity, coupled with increased sink demand, in Si-treated plants; therefore, we identify Si nutrition as an important target in attempts to improve the agronomic yield of rice.
Blast, caused by the fungus Pyricularia oryzae, is a major disease of the wheat crop in the Brazilian Cerrado and represents a potential threat to world wheat production. However, information about the wheat-P. oryzae interaction is still limited. In this work, the activities of the enzymes superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), peroxidase (POX), glutathione-S-transferase (GST), ascorbate peroxidase (APX), glutathione reductase (GR), and glutathione peroxidase (GPX) and the concentrations of superoxide (O₂(-)), hydrogen peroxide (H₂O₂), and malondialdehyde (MDA) as well as the electrolyte leakage (EL) were studied in wheat plants 'BR 18' and 'BRS 229', which are susceptible and partially resistant, respectively, to leaf blast at the vegetative growth stage, during the infection process of P. oryzae. The blast severity in BRS 229 was 50% lower than in BR 18 at 96 h after inoculation (hai). The activities of SOD, POX, APX, and GST increased for both cultivars in the inoculated plants compared with noninoculated plants and the increases were more pronounced for BRS 229 than for BR 18 at 96 hai. The GR and CAT activities only increased in inoculated plants from BRS 229 at 96 hai. For BR 18, the GR activity was not influenced by plant inoculation, and the CAT activity was lower in inoculated plants. The GPX activity only increased in inoculated plants from BR 18 at 48 and 72 hai. The P. oryzae infection increased the O₂(-), H₂O₂, and MDA concentrations and EL. However, the greater increases of the SOD, POX, APX, GST, GR, and CAT activities for BRS 229 compared with BR 18 contributed to the lower O₂(-), H₂O₂, and MDA concentrations and EL verified in the former. These results show that a more efficient antioxidative system in the removal of excess of reactive oxygen species generated during the infection process of P. oryzae limits the cellular damage caused by the fungus, thus contributing to greater wheat resistance to blast.
Wheat blast was first reported in Brazil in 1985. It spread rapidly across the wheat cropping areas of Brazil to become the most important biotic constraint on wheat production in the region. The alarming appearance of wheat blast in Bangladesh in 2016 greatly increased the urgency to understand this disease, including its causes and consequences. Here, we summarize the current state of knowledge of wheat blast and aim to identify the most important gaps in our understanding of the disease. We also propose a research agenda that aims to improve the management of wheat blast and limit its threat to global wheat production.
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