Ammonium Uptake and Assimilation are Required for Rice Defense against Sheath Blight Disease


Nitrogen (N) is an important nutrient for plant growth and yield production, and rice grown in paddy soil mainly uses ammonium (NH4+) as its N source. Previous studies have shown that N status is tightly connected to plant defense; however, the roles of NH4+ uptake and assimilation in rice sheath blight disease response have not been studied previously. Here, we analyzed the effects of different N sources on plant defense against Rhizoctonia solani. The results indicated that rice plants grown in N-free conditions had higher resistance to sheath blight than those grown under N conditions. In greater detail, rice plants cultured with glutamine as the sole N source were more susceptible to sheath blight disease compared to the groups using NH4+ and nitrate (NO3) as sole N sources. N deficiency severely inhibited plant growth; therefore, ammonium transporter 1;2 overexpressors (AMT1;2 OXs) were generated to test their growth and defense ability under low N conditions. AMT1;2 OXs increased N use efficiency and exhibited less susceptible symptoms to R. solani and highly induced the expression of PBZ1 compared to the wild-type controls upon infection of R. solani. Furthermore, the glutamine synthetase 1;1 (GS1;1) mutant (gs1;1) was more susceptible to R. solani infection than the wild-type control, and the genetic combination of AMT1;2 OX and gs1;1 revealed that AMT1;2 OX was less susceptible to R. solani and required GS1;1 activity. In addition, cellular NH4+ content was higher in AMT1;2 OX and gs1;1 plants, indicating that NH4+ was not directly controlling plant defense. In conclusion, the present study showed that the activation of NH4+ uptake and assimilation were required for rice resistance against sheath blight disease.

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ammonium transporter


Oryza sativa


glutamine syn-thetase



R. solani :

Rhizoctonia solani




open reading frame

PBZ1 :

Probenazole-inducible gene


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Correspondence to C. Zhang or Y. H. Wu or Y. J. Bai.

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Communicated by J. Zhang

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Chi, W.J., Wang, Z.Y., Liu, J.M. et al. Ammonium Uptake and Assimilation are Required for Rice Defense against Sheath Blight Disease. CEREAL RESEARCH COMMUNICATIONS 47, 98–110 (2019).

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  • AMT
  • assimilation
  • sheath blight
  • defense
  • GS1;1
  • rice