Quantitative Resistance to Plant Pathogens in Pyramiding Strategies for Durable Crop Protection
Alleles that confer multiple disease resistance (MDR) are valuable in crop improvement, although the molecular mechanisms underlying their functions remain largely unknown. A quantitative trait locus, qMdr9.02, associated with resistance to three important foliar maize diseases—southern leaf blight, gray leaf spot and northern leaf blight—has been identified on maize chromosome 9. Through fine-mapping, association analysis, expression analysis, insertional mutagenesis and transgenic validation, we demonstrate that ZmCCoAOMT2, which encodes a caffeoyl-CoA O-methyltransferase associated with the phenylpropanoid pathway and lignin production, is the gene within qMdr9.02 conferring quantitative resistance to both southern leaf blight and gray leaf spot. We suggest that resistance might be caused by allelic variation at the level of both gene expression and amino acid sequence, thus resulting in differences in levels of lignin and other metabolites of the phenylpropanoid pathway and regulation of programmed cell death.