Cell-type-specific responses to fungal infection in plants revealed by single-cell transcriptomics

Pathogen infection is a dynamic process. Here, we employ single-cell transcriptomics to investigate plant response heterogeneity. By generating an Arabidopsis thaliana leaf atlas encompassing 95,040 cells during infection by a fungal pathogen, Colletotrichum higginsianum, we unveil cell-type-specific gene expression, notably an enrichment of intracellular immune receptors in vasculature cells. Trajectory inference identifies cells that had different interactions with the invading fungus. This analysis divulges transcriptional reprogramming of abscisic acid signaling specifically occurring in guard cells, which is consistent with a stomatal closure dependent on direct contact with the fungus. Furthermore, we investigate the transcriptional plasticity of genes involved in glucosinolate biosynthesis in cells at the fungal infection sites, emphasizing the contribution of the epidermis-expressed MYB122 to disease resistance. This work underscores spatially dynamic, cell-type-specific plant responses to a fungal pathogen and provides a valuable resource that supports in-depth investigations of plant-pathogen interactions.