Molecular phylogenetic characterization and analysis of the WRKY transcription factor family responsive to Rhizoctonia solani in maize


In this study we have identified, based on the maize genome, 85 WRKY genes that were phylogenetically clustered into three families formed by 8 distinct subfamilies. The exon/intron structures and motif compositions of these WRKY genes were highly conserved in each subfamily suggesting their functional conservation. Moreover, based on qTelller analyses, the majority of these WRKY genes showed a specific temporal and spatial expression pattern. These WRKY genes, within the same group, manifested a distinct expression, indicating a similar function in their expression during the evolutionary process; this is reflected by their sub-functionalizations in their expression pattern concerning leaf developmental gradient, while mature bundle sheath, and mesophyll cells had a similar cellular localization and modality of expression. This study has also provided evidence of the presence of a subset of WRKY genes exhibiting a putative functional role in leaf sheath when infected with Rhizoctonia solani. This finding appears helpful for future functional investigations to unravel the roles of WRKY genes in plant pathogen resistance. Interestingly, in this study we have identified three WRKY genes that are predicted to be potential targets of miR160 and miR171b families. Therefore, this finding appears relevant in elucidating the biological functions of these transcription factors to clarify the molecular mechanisms affecting leaf sheath growth and development during fungal infection and plant resistance.


WRKY transcription factor; maize; phylogenetic analysis; expression profile; R solani

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Maydica - A journal devoted to maize and allied species

ISSN: 2279-8013