Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Transcriptome-based discovery of pathways and genes related to resistance against Fusarium head blight in wheat landrace Wangshuibai

Jin Xiao1, Xiahong Jin1, Xinping Jia12, Haiyan Wang1, Aizhong Cao1, Weiping Zhao3, Haiyan Pei1, Zhaokun Xue1, Liqiang He1, Qiguang Chen1 and Xiue Wang1*

Author affiliations

1 State Key Laboratory of Crop Genetics and Germplasm Enhancement, Cytogenetics Institute, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, 210095, China

2 Institute of Agro-biotechnology, Jiangsu Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Nanjing, 210014, China

3 School of Biology and Food Engineering, Chuzhou University, Chuzhou, 239000, People’s Republic of China

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Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2013, 14:197  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-197

Published: 21 March 2013



Fusarium head blight (FHB), caused mainly by Fusarium graminearum (Fg) Schwabe (teleomorph: Gibberellazeae Schwble), brings serious damage to wheat production. Chinese wheat landrace Wangshuibai is one of the most important resistance sources in the world. The knowledge of mechanism underlying its resistance to FHB is still limited.


To get an overview of transcriptome characteristics of Wangshuibai during infection by Fg, a high-throughput RNA sequencing based on next generation sequencing (NGS) technology (Illumina) were performed. Totally, 165,499 unigenes were generated and assigned to known protein databases including NCBI non-redundant protein database (nr) (82,721, 50.0%), Gene Ontology (GO) (38,184, 23.1%), Swiss-Prot (50,702, 30.6%), Clusters of orthologous groups (COG) (51,566, 31.2%) and the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) (30,657, 18.5%), as determined by Blastx search. With another NGS based platform, a digital gene expression (DGE) system, gene expression in Wangshuibai and its FHB susceptible mutant NAUH117 was profiled and compared at two infection stages by inoculation of Fg at 24 and 48 hour, with the aim of identifying genes involved in FHB resistance.


Pathogen-related proteins such as PR5, PR14 and ABC transporter and JA signaling pathway were crucial for FHB resistance, especially that mediated by Fhb1. ET pathway and ROS/NO pathway were not activated in Wangshuibai and may be not pivotal in defense to FHB. Consistent with the fact that in NAUH117 there presented a chromosome fragment deletion, which led to its increased FHB susceptibility, in Wangshuibai, twenty out of eighty-nine genes showed changed expression patterns upon the infection of Fg. The up-regulation of eight of them was confirmed by qRT-PCR, revealing they may be candidate genes for Fhb1 and need further functional analysis to confirm their roles in FHB resistance.

Fusarium head blight; Wangshuibai; NAUH117; Resistance; Transcriptome; Digital gene expression