Graduate School of Bio-Science, Nagahama Institute of Bio-Science and Technology, 1266, Tamura, Nagahama, Shiga 526-0829, Japan
Plants sense potential pathogens by recognizing conserved pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) that cause PAMP-triggered immunity (PTI). We previously reported that rice recognizes flagellin from the rice-incompatible N1141 strain of Acidovorax avenae and subsequently induces immune responses. Cell extracts isolated from flagellin-deficient N1141 (Δfla1141) still induced PTI responses, suggesting that Δfla1141 possesses an additional PAMP distinct from flagellin. Here, we show that elongation factor Tu (EF-Tu), one of the most abundant bacterial proteins, acts as a PAMP in rice and causes several PTI responses. In Brassicaceae species, EF-Tu and an N-acetylated peptide comprising the first 18 amino acids of the N-terminus, termed elf18, are fully active as inducers of PTI responses. By contrast, elf18 did not cause any immune responses in rice, whereas an EF-Tu middle region comprising Lys176 to Gly225, termed EFa50, is fully active as a PAMP in rice. In the leaves of rice plants, EF-Tu induced H2O2 generation and callose deposition, and also triggered resistance to coinfection with pathogenic bacteria. Taken together, these data demonstrate that rice recognizes EFa50, which is distinct from elf18, and that this epitope induces PTI responses.