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Plant Physiology
Vol. 164, No. 2, 2014; Page: 866 - 878

The Compromised Recognition of Turnip Crinkle Virus1 Subfamily of Microrchidia ATPases Regulates Disease Resistance in Barley to Biotrophic and Necrotrophic Pathogens

Gregor Langen, Sabrina von Einem, Aline Koch, Jafargholi Imani, Subhash B. Pai, Murli Manohar, Katrin Ehlers, Hyong Woo Choi, Martina Claar, Rebekka Schmidt, Hyung-Gon Mang, Yogendra Bordiya, Hong-Gu Kang, Daniel F. Klessig and Karl-Heinz Kogel

Research Centre for BioSystems, Land Use, and Nutrition (G.L., S.v.E., A.K., J.I., S.B.P., M.C., R.S., K.-H.K.), and Department of Botany (K.E.), Justus Liebig University, 35392 Giessen, Germany.


MORC1 and MORC2, two of the seven members of the Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) Compromised Recognition of Turnip Crinkle Virus1 subfamily of microrchidia Gyrase, Heat Shock Protein90, Histidine Kinase, MutL (GHKL) ATPases, were previously shown to be required in multiple layers of plant immunity. Here, we show that the barley (Hordeum vulgare) MORCs also are involved in disease resistance. Genome-wide analyses identified five MORCs that are 37% to 48% identical on the protein level to AtMORC1. Unexpectedly, and in clear contrast to Arabidopsis, RNA interference-mediated knockdown of MORC inbarley resulted in enhanced basal resistance and effector-triggered, powdery mildew resistance locus A12-mediated resistance against the biotrophic powdery mildew fungus (Blumeria graminis f. sp. hordei), while MORC overexpression decreased resistance. Moreover, barley knockdown mutants also showed higher resistance to Fusarium graminearum. Barley MORCs, like their Arabidopsis homologs, contain the highly conserved GHKL ATPase and S5 domains, which identify them as members of the MORC superfamily. Like AtMORC1, barley MORC1 (HvMORC1) binds DNA and has Mn2+-dependent endonuclease activities, suggesting that the contrasting function of MORC1 homologs in barley versus Arabidopsis is not due to differences in their enzyme activities. In contrast to AtMORCs, which are involved in silencing of transposons that are largely restricted to pericentromeric regions, barley MORC mutants did not show a loss-of-transposon silencing regardless of their genomic location. Reciprocal overexpression of MORC1 homologs in barley and Arabidopsis showed that AtMORC1 and HvMORC1 could not restore each other’s function. Together, these results suggest that MORC proteins function as modulators of immunity, which can act negatively (barley) or positively (Arabidopsis) dependent on the species.


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