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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Cross-Kingdom RNAi of Pathogen Effectors Leads to Quantitative Adult Plant Resistance in Wheat

Schaefer, Luisa Katharina; Parlange, Francis; Buchmann, Gabriele; Jung, Esther; Wehrli, Andreas; Herren, Gerhard; Mueller, Marion Claudia; Stehlin, Jonas; Schmid, Roman; Wicker, Thomas; Keller, Beat; Bourras, Salim


Cross-kingdom RNA interference (RNAi) is a biological process allowing plants to transfer small regulatory RNAs to invading pathogens to trigger the silencing of target virulence genes. Transient assays in cereal powdery mildews suggest that silencing of one or two effectors could lead to near loss of virulence, but evidence from stable RNAi lines is lacking. We established transient host-induced gene silencing (HIGS) in wheat, and demonstrate that targeting an essential housekeeping gene in the wheat powdery mildew pathogen (Blumeria graminis f. sp. tritici) results in significant reduction of virulence at an early stage of infection. We generated stable transgenic RNAi wheat lines encoding a HIGS construct simultaneously silencing three B.g. tritici effectors including SvrPm3(a1/f1), a virulence factor involved in the suppression of the Pm3 powdery mildew resistance gene. We show that all targeted effectors are effectively downregulated by HIGS, resulting in reduced fungal virulence on adult wheat plants. Our findings demonstrate that stable HIGS of effector genes can lead to quantitative gain of resistance without major pleiotropic effects in wheat.


cross-kingdom RNAi; ck-RNAi; host-induced gene silencing; HIGS; ribonuclease-like effectors; effectors; Blumeria graminis; wheat

Published in

Frontiers in Plant Science
2020, Volume: 11, article number: 253

    Associated SLU-program

    SLU Plant Protection Network

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Agricultural Science

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