Crop Biotech Update

RNAi Confers Resistance Against Sugarcane Mosaic Virus

March 14, 2018

RNA interference (RNAi) is commonly used to produce virus tolerant transgenic plants. Usman Aslam from University of the Punjab in Pakistan aimed to develop transgenic sugarcane plants expressing a short hairpin RNA targeting the coat protein (CP) gene of the sugarcane mosaic virus (SCMV).

The team designed two RNAi constructs, siRNAs2 and siRNA4, which target the CP gene. These transgenes were cloned and were independently delivered into two sugarcane cultivars, SPF-234 and NSG-311, via particle bombardment. The team selected positive transgenic lines and inoculated them with SCMV.

For sugarcane cultivar NSG-311, the expression of the CP–SCMV gene was reduced by 10% in shRNA2-lines and by 80% in shRNA4- lines. For the transgenic SPF-234 lines, the expression of the CP–SCMV was reduced by 20% in shRNA2-lines and by up to 90% in shRNA4-lines.

These results reveal that sugarcane plants expressing shRNA4 were almost immune to SCMV infection. This could be a potentially new and powerful approach in developing virus resistant sugarcane.

For more information, read the article in Transgenic Research.