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Virology Journal
Vol. xx, No: xx, 2011, Pages: xxx - xxx

RNA interference-based resistance against a legume mastrevirus

Nahid N, Amin I, Briddon RW, Mansoor S

Agricultural Biotechnology Division, National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering-NIBGE, PO Box 577, Jhang Road, Faisalabad, Pakistan.



RNA interference (RNAi) is a homology-dependant gene silencing mechanism and has been widely used to engineer resistance in plants against RNA viruses. However, its usefulness in delivering resistance against plant DNA viruses belonging to family Geminiviridae is still being debated. Although the RNAi approach has been shown, using a transient assay, to be useful in countering monocotyledonous plant-infecting geminiviruses of the genus Mastrevirus, it has yet to be investigated as a means of delivering resistance to dicot-infecting mastreviruses. Chickpea chlorotic dwarf Pakistan virus (CpCDPKV) is a legume-infecting mastrevirus that affects chickpea and other leguminous crops in Pakistan.


Here a hairpin (hp)RNAi construct containing sequences encompassing part of replication-associated protein gene, intergenic region and part of the movement protein gene of CpCDPKV under the control of the Cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter has been produced and stably transformed into Nicotiana benthamiana. Plants harboring the hairpin construct were challenged with CpCDPKV. All non-transgenic N. benthamiana plants developed symptoms of CpCDPKV infection within two weeks post-inoculation. In contrast, none of the inoculated transgenic plants showed symptoms of infection and no viral DNA could be detected by Southern hybridization. A real-time quantitative PCR analysis identified very low-level accumulation of viral DNA in the inoculated transgenic plants.


The results presented show that the RNAi-based resistance strategy is useful in protecting plants from a dicot-infecting mastrevirus. The very low levels of virus detected in plant tissue of transgenic plants distal to the inoculation site suggest that virus movement and/or viral replication was impaired leading to plants that showed no discernible signs of virus infection.



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