Biotech Updates

RNAi Used to Confer Verticillium Wilt Resistance in Cotton

September 12, 2018

Verticillium wilt (VW) is a highly devastating disease that affect a wide range of crops, causing major losses in agriculture. The most effective way to combat this disease is determined to be the usage of resistant cultivars, which are limited in most crops. One of these crops is cotton, the most important fiber in the world textile industry.

To address this problem in cotton, scientist Wangzhen Guo and colleagues from Nanjing Agricultural University utilize RNA interference (RNAi) to turn off pathogenic genes of Verticillium dahliae fungus in infected cotton seedlings. They first characterize virulence genes called VdRGS genes and find that VdRGS1 is responsible in the spore production, hyphal development, microsclerotia formation, and pathogenicity of the fungus. VdRGS1 is also found to be conserved and essential in the virulence of the fungus. Silencing this gene in cotton infected plants through agro-infiltration showed enhanced resistance of cotton to VW. This finding allows future establishment of resistance in cotton and other crops using the technology.

For more information, read the article in Plant Biotechnology Journal.