Temporally coordinated expression of nuclear genes encoding chloroplast proteins in wheat promotes Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici infection

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Targeting host processes that allow pathogens to thrive can be invaluable in resistance breeding. Here, we generated a deep-sequencing transcriptome time course for Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici (Pst) infection on wheat and compared datasets from three wheat varieties with different levels of susceptibility to two tested pathogen isolates. We sought genes specifically altered in a susceptible host as candidates that might support colonisation. Host responses differed between Pst-varietal pairs most prominently early during infection. Notably, however, nuclear genes encoding chloroplast-localised proteins (NGCPs) exhibited temporal coordination of expression profiles that differed at later time points in relation to Pstsusceptibility. Disrupting one such NGCP, encoding the chloroplast-localised RNA binding protein TaCSP41a, led to lower Pst susceptibility. These analyses thus highlight NGCPs as prime targets for Pst manipulation during infection and point to TaCSP41a disruption as a potential source of Pst resistance for breeding programmes.