Zizania latifolia is a perennial aquatic vegetable, whose symbiosis with the fungus Ustilago esculenta (member of Basidiomycota, class Ustilaginaceae) results in the establishment of swollen gall formations. Here, we analyzed symbiotic relations of Z. latifolia and U. esculenta, using a triadimefon (TDF) treatment and transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq). Specifically, accurately identify the whole growth cycle of Z. latifolia. Microstructure observations showed that the presence of U. esculenta could be clearly observed after gall formation but was absent after the TDF treatment. A total of 17,541 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified, based on the transcriptome. According to gene ontology term and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathway results, plant hormone signal transduction, and cell wall–loosening factors were all significantly enriched due to U. esculenta infecting Z. latifolia; relative expression levels of hormone-related genes were identified, of which downregulation of indole 3-acetic acid (IAA)-related DEGs was most pronounced in JB_D versus JB_B. The ultra–high performance liquid chromatography analysis revealed that IAA, zeatin+trans zeatin riboside, and gibberellin 3 were increased under U. esculenta infection. Based on our results, we proposed a hormone–cell wall loosening model to study the symbiotic mechanism of gall formation after U. esculenta infects Z. latifolia. Our study thus provides a new perspective for studying the physiological and molecular mechanisms of U. esculenta infection of Z. latifolia causing swollen gall formations as well as a theoretical basis for enhancing future yields of cultivated Z. latifolia.
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