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RNAi-based transgene conferred extreme resistance to the geminivirus causing apical leaf curl disease in potato

Tomar, Garima, Chakrabarti, S.K., Sharma, NityaNanda, Jeevalatha, A., Sundaresha, S., Vyas, Kanika, Azmi, Wamik
Plant biotechnology reports 2018 v.12 no.3 pp. 195-205
Aleyrodidae, RNA interference, Southern blotting, Tomato leaf curl New Delhi virus, greenhouses, leaf curling, leaves, molecular cloning, potatoes, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, screening, sequence homology, subtropics, tomatoes, transgenes, transgenic plants, tropics, viral load, viruses, weather, India
Potato apical leaf curl disease is an emerging geminiviral disease in tropics and subtropics. It was reported for the first time in the year 1999 in northern plains of India but quickly spread to almost all potato growing regions of the country largely due to prevalence of warmer weather during early crop growth, thereby favoring whitefly vector. The problem of apical leaf curl disease in India became more severe due to lack of seed indexing for this virus in conventional seed production scheme. Although it accounts for major yield loss, there is no conventional source of resistance available in potato against Tomato Leaf Curl New Delhi Virus-Potato (ToLCNDV-Potato) that causes this disease in potato. In the present study, we have investigated the potential use of RNAi for obtaining resistance against this DNA virus in potato. The replication-associated protein gene (AC1) of the virus was used to obtain pathogen-derived resistance. The AC1 gene was PCR amplified from field-infected potato leaves, cloned and sequenced (JN393309). It showed 93% sequence similarity with the AC1 gene of Tomato Leaf Curl Virus-New Delhi (TOLCV-NDe; DQ169056) virus. Transgenic plants encoding the AC1 gene in three different orientations, viz. sense, antisense and hairpin loop, were raised. Transgenic lines when challenge inoculated with ToLCNDV-Potato showed different levels of resistance for all three constructs. Transgene integration and copy number in selected transgenic lines were determined by qPCR and further confirmed by Southern blot analysis. Though a reduction in viral titer was observed in transgenic lines encoding either antisense or hairpin loop constructs of AC1 gene, the latter transgenics showed most significant results as shown by reduction in the level of symptom expression in glasshouse screening as well as real-time data of in vivo virus concentration. In fact, we obtained a few totally asymptomatic transgenic lines with hairpin loop strategy.