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Cucumber mosaic virus Infection Transiently Breaks dsRNA-Induced Transgenic Immunity to Potato virus Y in Tobacco

October 2003 , Volume 16 , Number  10
Pages  936 - 944

Neena Mitter , Emy Sulistyowati , and Ralf G. Dietzgen

Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Agency for Food and Fibre Sciences, Agricultural Biotechnology and Cooperative Research Centre for Tropical Plant Protection, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia Qld 4072, Australia

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Accepted 14 June 2003.

Post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS), an intrinsic plant defense mechanism, can be efficiently triggered by double stranded (ds)RNA-producing transgenes and can provide high level virus resistance by specific targeting of cognate viral RNA. The discovery of virus-encoded suppressors of PTGS led to concerns about the stability of such resistance. Here, we show that Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) is able to suppress dsRNA-induced PTGS and the associated Potato virus Y (PVY) immunity in tobacco. CMV suppression supported only a transient PVY accumulation and did not prevent recovery of the transgenic plants from PVY infection. CMV inoculation resulted in strongly increased transgene mRNA levels due to suppression of PTGS, but accumulation of PVY-specific small interfering (si)RNA was unaffected. However, PVY accumulation in previously immune plants resulted in increased PVY siRNA levels and transgene mRNA was no longer detected, despite the presence of CMV. Transgene mRNA returned to high levels once PVY was no longer detected in CMV-infected plants. Recovered and chronically CMV-infected tissues were immune to further PVY infection.

Additional keywords: PTGS suppression, transgenic virus resistance.

© 2003 The American Phytopathological Society