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Tomato-infecting begomoviruses, a member of whitefly-transmitted geminivirus, cause the most devastating virus disease complex of cultivated tomato crops in the tropical and subtropical regions. Numerous strategies have been used to engineer crops for their resistance to geminiviruses. However, nearly all have concentrated on engineering the replication-associated gene (Rep), but not on a comprehensive evaluation of the entire virus genome. In this study, Tomato leaf curl Taiwan virus (ToLCTWV), a predominant tomato-infecting begomovirus in Taiwan, was subjected to the investigation of the viral gene fragments conferring resistance to geminiviruses in transgenic plants. Ten transgenic constructs covering the entire ToLCTWV genome were fused to a silencer DNA, the middle half of N gene of Tomato spot wilt virus (TSWV), to induce gene silencing and these constructs were transformed into Nicotiana benthamiana plants. Two constructs derived from IRC1 (intergenic region flanked with 5' end Rep) and C2 (partial C2 ORF) were able to render resistance to ToLCTWV in transgenic N. benthamiana plants. Transgenic plants transformed with two other constructs, C2C3 (overlapping region of C2 and C3 ORFs) and Rep2 (3' end of the C1 ORF), significantly delayed the symptom development. Detection of siRNA confirmed that the mechanism of resistance was via gene silencing. This study demonstrated for the first time the screening of the entire genome of a monopartite begomovirus to discover viral DNA fragments that might be suitable for conferring virus resistance, and which could be potential candidates for developing transgenic plants with durable and broad-spectrum resistance to a DNA virus via a gene silencing approach.

Citation

Ching-Yi Lin, Wen-Shi Tsai, Hsin-Mei Ku, Fuh-Jyh Jan. Evaluation of DNA fragments covering the entire genome of a monopartite begomovirus for induction of viral resistance in transgenic plants via gene silencing. Transgenic research. 2012 Apr;21(2):231-41

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PMID: 21597979

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