Rice blast, caused by the pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae, is the most important fungal disease of cultivated rice (Oryza sativa). Salvador-Guirao et al. investigate the contribution of DCL1, the core component for microRNA (miRNA) biogenesis in rice immunity.
OsDCL1a activation enhances susceptibility to M. oryzae. Main features of dcl1a-activation in rice plants include the misregulation of genes involved in detoxification of reactive oxygen species, inability to produce diterpenoid phytoalexins during M. oryzae infection, and alterations in the rice miRNAome. A better understanding of DCL1 function provides the basis for developing novel strategies to improve blast resistance in rice.