Biotech Updates

Engineering Broad-spectrum Resistance Against RNA Viruses in Potato

July 8, 2011

Several studies have used RNA silencing in inducing resistance against viruses in plants. Since double stranded RNA diced into small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) can activate RNA silencing, then it is possible to confer high level of virus resistance by specific targeting of similar viral RNA. M. Arif and colleagues at the National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering, Pakistan, constructed a chimeric expression vector with three partial gene sequences from ORF2 gene of Potato virus X, Helper Component Protease gene of Potato virus Y and Coat protein gene of Potato leaf roll virus.

Potato cultivars Desiree and Kuroda were transformed with chimeric gene cassette with the use of Agrobacterium tumefaciens and transformation was confirmed by PCR and ELISA detection. Accumulation of specific siRNAs manifested simultaneous RNA silencing. Expression of partial triple-gene sequence cassette implied that 20% of the transgenic plants are immune against all three viruses. Therefore, expression of a single transgene construct can effectively confer resistance to multiple viruses in transgenic potato plants.

Read the open-access research article at