Shuai Li

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N 6-methyladenosine (m 6A) is a common messenger RNA (mRNA) modification that affects diverse physiological processes in stress responses. However, the role of m 6A modification in plants coping with herbivore stress remains unclear. Here we found that an infestation of brown planthopper (BPH) Nilaparvata lugens female adults enhanced the rice resistance to BPH. An m 6A methylome analysis of BPH-infested and un-infested rice samples were measured to explore the interaction between rice and BPH. m 6A methylation occurs mainly in genes actively expressed in rice following BPH infestation, while an analysis of the whole-genomic mRNA distribution of m 6A showed that BPH infestation caused an overall decrease in the number of m 6A methylation sites across the chromosomes. Genes involved in components of the m 6A modification machinery, BPH resistance, and several defense-related (such as JA, SA and cellulose) pathways were heavily methylated by m 6A in BPH-infested rice compared to those in un-infested rice. In contrast, m 6A modification levels of growth-related phytohormones (auxin and gibberellin) biosynthesis-related genes were significantly attenuated under BPH attack, accompanied by downregulated expression of these transcripts, indicating that rice growth was restricted during BPH attack to rapidly optimize resource allocation for plant defense. Integrative analysis of the differential patterns of m 6A methylation and the corresponding transcripts showed a positive correlation between m 6A methylation and transcriptional regulation. In conclusion, the process of m 6A modification acts as an important strategy for regulating expression of genes involved in rice defense and growth during rice-BPH interaction.