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Crop floral diseases are economically important as they reduce grain yield and quality and even introduce food toxins. Rice false smut has emerged as a serious floral disease producing mycotoxins. However, very little is known on the interaction mechanisms between rice flower and the causal fungus Ustilaginoidea virens. Here we show that a conserved anti-fungal immunity in rice flower is disarmed by U. virens via a secreted protein UvChi1. UvChi1 functioned as an essential virulence factor and directly interacted with the chitin receptor CEBiP and co-receptor CERK1 in rice to disrupt their oligomerizations and subsequent immune responses. Moreover, intraspecific-conserved UvChi1 could target OsCEBiP/OsCERK1 receptor complex in at least 98.5% of 5232 surveyed rice accessions. These results demonstrate that U. virens utilizes a crucial virulence factor to subvert chitin-triggered flower immunity in most rice varieties, providing new insights into the susceptibility of rice to false smut disease. One Sentence SummaryThe fungal pathogen Ustilaginoidea virens disarms chitin-triggered immunity in rice flower via a secreted chitinase.

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