BackgroundPhakopsora pachyrhizi is a biotrophic fungal pathogen responsible for the Asian soybean rust disease causing important yield losses in tropical and subtropical soybean-producing countries. P. pachyrhizi triggers important transcriptional changes in soybean plants during infection, with several hundreds of genes being either up- or downregulated.ResultsBased on published transcriptomic data, we identified a predicted chitinase gene, referred to as GmCHIT1, that was upregulated in the first hours of infection. We first confirmed this early induction and showed that this gene was expressed as early as 8 h after P. pachyrhizi inoculation. To investigate the promoter of GmCHIT1, transgenic soybean plants expressing the green fluorescence protein (GFP) under the control of the GmCHIT1 promoter were generated. Following inoculation of these transgenic plants with P. pachyrhizi, GFP fluorescence was detected in a limited area located around appressoria, the fungal penetration structures. Fluorescence was also observed after mechanical wounding whereas no variation in fluorescence of pGmCHIT1:GFP transgenic plants was detected after a treatment with an ethylene precursor or a methyl jasmonate analogue.ConclusionWe identified a soybean chitinase promoter exhibiting an early induction by P. pachyrhizi located in the first infected soybean leaf cells. Our results on the induction of GmCHIT1 promoter by P. pachyrhizi contribute to the identification of a new pathogen inducible promoter in soybean and beyond to the development of a strategy for the Asian soybean rust disease control using biotechnological approaches.