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Crop Biotech Update

WRKY Genes Involved in Soybean Response to Phakopsora pachyrhizi Infection

September 18, 2014

Previous studies have revealed that soybean WRKY transcription factors are involved in plant responses to abiotic stresses and diseases, including Asian Soybean Rust caused by Phakopsora pachyrhizi. Researchers, led by Maria Helena Bodanese-Zanettini of Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, performed genome-wide annotation of the soybean WRKY family to identify genes involved in the response to P. pachyrhizi infection.

Seventy-five genes were differentially expressed during fungal infection, eight of which were suggested to be involved in the response to infection. The expression of these genes in a resistant genotype was found to be earlier and/or stronger compared with the response of susceptible genotypes. Transgenic soybean lines with silenced WRKY genes were generated. The leaves of transgenic silenced lines showed higher number of lesions than the wild-types. Embryos overexpressing WRKY genes were also obtained, but were unable to grow into plants.

These results suggest the possibility of manipulation of WRKYs as an approach to confer fungal resistance in soybean.

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