Background: Ascochyta blight, caused by Mycosphaerella pinodes is one of the most important pea pathogens. However, little is known about the genes and mechanisms of resistance acting against M. pinodes in pea. Resistance identified so far to this pathogen is incomplete, polygenic and scarce in pea, being most common in Pisum relatives. The identification of the genes underlying resistance would increase our knowledge about M. pinodes-pea interaction and would facilitate the introgression of resistance into pea varieties. In the present study differentially expressed genes in the resistant P. sativum ssp. syriacum accession P665 comparing to the susceptible pea cv. Messire after inoculation with M. pinodes have been identified using a M. truncatula microarray.
Results: Of the 16,470 sequences analysed, 346 were differentially regulated. Differentially regulated genes belonged to almost all functional categories and included genes involved in defense such as genes involved in cell wall reinforcement, phenylpropanoid and phytoalexins metabolism, pathogenesis-related (PR) proteins and detoxification processes. Genes associated with jasmonic acid (JA) and ethylene signal transduction pathways were induced suggesting that the response to M. pinodes in pea is regulated via JA and ET pathways. Expression levels of ten differentially regulated genes were validated in inoculated and control plants using qRT-PCR showing that the P665 accession shows constitutively an increased expression of the defense related genes as peroxidases, disease resistance response protein 39 (DRR230-b), glutathione S-transferase (GST) and 6a-hydroxymaackiain methyltransferase.
Conclusions: Through this study a global view of genes expressed during resistance to M. pinodes has been obtained, giving relevant information about the mechanisms and pathways conferring resistance to this important disease. In addition, the M. truncatula microarray represents an efficient tool to identify candidate genes controlling resistance to M. pinodes in pea.