BackgroundSwitchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is a warm-season perennial grass that can be used as a second generation bioenergy crop. However, foliar fungal pathogens, like switchgrass rust, have the potential to significantly reduce switchgrass biomass yield. Despite its importance as a prominent bioenergy crop, a genome-wide comprehensive analysis of NB-LRR disease resistance genes has yet to be performed in switchgrass.
ResultsIn this study, we used a homology-based computational approach to identify 1011 potential NB-LRR resistance gene homologs (RGHs) in the switchgrass genome (v 1.1). In addition, we identified 40 RGHs that potentially contain unique domains including major sperm protein domain, jacalin-like binding domain, calmodulin-like binding, and thioredoxin. RNA-sequencing analysis of leaf tissue from 'Alamo', a rust-resistant switchgrass cultivar, and 'Dacotah', a rust-susceptible switchgrass cultivar, identified 2634 high quality variants in the RGHs between the two cultivars. RNA-sequencing data from field-grown cultivar 'Summer' plants indicated that the expression of some of these RGHs was developmentally regulated.
ConclusionsOur results provide useful insight into the molecular structure, distribution, and expression patterns of members of the NB-LRR gene family in switchgrass. These results also provide a foundation for future work aimed at elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying disease resistance in this important bioenergy crop.