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Host-Induced Gene Silencing of an Adenylate Kinase Gene Involved in Fungal Energy Metabolism Improves Plant Resistance to Verticillium dahliae

1
Biotechnology Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, China
2
Department of Biotechnology, University of Swabi, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 23561, Pakistan
3
State Key Laboratory for Biology of Plant Diseases and Insect Pests, Institute of Plant Protection, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100193, China
4
Department of Plant Pathology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Biomolecules 2020, 10(1), 127; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom10010127
Received: 9 December 2019 / Revised: 10 January 2020 / Accepted: 10 January 2020 / Published: 12 January 2020
Verticillium wilt, caused by the ascomycete fungus Verticillium dahliae (Vd), is a devastating disease of numerous plant species. However, the pathogenicity/virulence-related genes in this fungus, which may be potential targets for improving plant resistance, remain poorly elucidated. For the study of these genes in Vd, we used a well-established host-induced gene silencing (HIGS) approach and identified 16 candidate genes, including a putative adenylate kinase gene (VdAK). Transiently VdAK-silenced plants developed milder wilt symptoms than control plants did. VdAK-knockout mutants were more sensitive to abiotic stresses and had reduced germination and virulence on host plants. Transgenic Nicotiana benthamiana and Arabidopsis thaliana plants that overexpressed VdAK dsRNAs had improved Vd resistance than the wild-type. RT-qPCR results showed that VdAK was also crucial for energy metabolism. Importantly, in an analysis of total small RNAs from Vd strains isolated from the transgenic plants, a small interfering RNA (siRNA) targeting VdAK was identified in transgenic N. benthamiana. Our results demonstrate that HIGS is a promising strategy for efficiently screening pathogenicity/virulence-related genes of Vd and that VdAK is a potential target to control this fungus. View Full-Text
Keywords: host-induced gene silencing (HIGS); Verticillium dahliae; pathogenicity factor; adenylate kinase host-induced gene silencing (HIGS); Verticillium dahliae; pathogenicity factor; adenylate kinase
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Su, X.; Lu, G.; Li, X.; Rehman, L.; Liu, W.; Sun, G.; Guo, H.; Wang, G.; Cheng, H. Host-Induced Gene Silencing of an Adenylate Kinase Gene Involved in Fungal Energy Metabolism Improves Plant Resistance to Verticillium dahliae. Biomolecules 2020, 10, 127.

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