Sci Rep 7(1) , 17212 (Dec 8 2017)
Fusarium crown rot (FCR) of wheat and barley, predominantly caused by the fungal pathogen Fusarium pseudograminearum, is a disease of economic significance. The quantitative nature of FCR resistance within cultivated wheat germplasm has significantly limited breeding efforts to enhanced FCR resistance in wheat. In this study, we characterized the molecular responses of Brachypodium distachyon (Brachypodium hereafter) to F. pseudograminearum infection using RNA-seq to determine whether Brachypodium can be exploited as a model system towards better understanding of F. pseudograminearum-wheat interaction. The transcriptional response to infection in Brachypodium was strikingly similar to that previously reported in wheat, both in shared expression patterns of wheat homologs of Brachypodium genes and functional overlap revealed through comparative gene ontology analysis in both species. Metabolites produced by various biosynthetic pathways induced in both wheat and Brachypodium were quantified, revealing a high degree of overlap between these two species in metabolic response to infection but also showed Brachypodium does not produce certain defence-related metabolites found in wheat. Functional analyses of candidate genes identified in this study will improve our understanding of resistance mechanisms and may lead to the development of new strategies to protect cereal crops from pathogen infection.