Wheat Pathogenomics Team, Plant Biology and Crop Science Department, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, AL5 2JQ, U.K.
Fungal cell-wall chitin is a well-recognized pathogen-associated molecular pattern. Recognition of chitin in plants by pattern recognition receptors activates pathogen-triggered immunity (PTI). In Arabidopsis, this process is mediated by a plasma membrane receptor kinase, CERK1, whereas in rice, a receptor-like protein, CEBiP, in addition to CERK1 is required. Secreted chitin-binding lysin motif (LysM) containing fungal effector proteins, such as Ecp6 from the biotrophic fungus Cladosporium fulvum, have been reported to interfere with PTI. Here, we identified wheat homologues of CERK1 and CEBiP and investigated their role in the interaction with the nonbiotrophic pathogen of wheat Mycosphaerella graminicola (synonym Zymoseptoria tritici). We show that silencing of either CERK1 or CEBiP in wheat, using Barley stripe mosaic virus–mediated virus-induced gene silencing, is sufficient in allowing leaf colonization by the normally nonpathogenic M. graminicola Mg3LysM (homologue of Ecp6) deletion mutant, while the Mg1LysM deletion mutant was fully pathogenic toward both silenced and wild-type wheat leaves. These data indicate that Mg3LysM is important for fungal evasion of PTI in wheat leaf tissue and that both CERK1 and CEBiP are required for activation of chitin-induced defenses, a feature conserved between rice and wheat, and perhaps, also in other cereal species.