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Plant immunity frequently incurs growth penalties, which known as the trade-off between immunity and growth. Heterosis, the phenotypic superiority of a hybrid over its parents, has been demonstrated for many traits but rarely for disease resistance. Here, we report that the central circadian oscillator, CCA1, confers heterosis for bacterial defense in hybrids without growth vigor costs, and it even significantly enhances the growth heterosis of hybrids under pathogen infection. The genetic perturbation of CCA1 abrogated heterosis for both defense and growth in hybrids. Upon pathogen attack, the expression of CCA1 in F1 hybrids is precisely modulated at different time points during the day by its rhythmic histone modifications. Before dawn of the first infection day, epigenetic activation of CCA1 promotes an elevation of salicylic acid accumulation in hybrids, enabling heterosis for defense. During the middle of every infection day, diurnal epigenetic repression of CCA1 leads to rhythmically increased chlorophyll synthesis and starch metabolism in hybrids, effectively eliminating the immunity-growth heterosis trade-offs in hybrids.


Li Yang, Pengtao Liu, Xuncheng Wang, Aolin Jia, Diqiu Ren, Yaru Tang, Yaqi Tang, Xing Wang Deng, Guangming He. A central circadian oscillator confers defense heterosis in hybrids without growth vigor costs. Nature communications. 2021 Apr 19;12(1):2317

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PMID: 33875651

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