Head smut of maize, which is caused by Sporisorium reilianum
f. sp. zeae
(Kühn), is a serious disease
in maize. In order to reveal the molecular mechanism of the resistance to head smut in maize, a microarray
containing ~14,850 probes was used to monitor the gene expression profiles between a disease resistant near
isogenic line (NIL) and a highly susceptible inbred line after S. reilianum
was injected with an artificial
Levels of expression for 3,532 genes accounting for 23.8% of the total probes changed after inoculation.
Gene Ontology analysis revealed that the differentially expressed genes participated in physiological and
biochemical pathways. The Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway analysis indicated that
plant–pathogen interaction, natural killer cell mediated cytotoxicity and benzoxazinoid biosynthesis pathways
play important roles in resistance to head smut. Three head smut resistance-related candidate genes, CLAVATA1,
bassinosteroid insensitive 1-associated receptor kinase 1 and LOC100217307 with leucine-rich repeat (LRR)
conserved domains were identified, each of which is in maize mapping bin 2.09, a region previously shown to
include a major QTL for head smut resistance. Furthermore, LOC100217307 was validated by quantitative
real-time (qRT)-PCR inferring that this gene may be involved in the resistance to head smut of maize.
This study provided valuable information for cloning, functional analysis and marker assisted breeding
of head smut resistance genes.