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Genetically Engineered Resistance to Fusarium Head Blight in Wheat by Expression of Arabidopsis NPR1

February 2006 , Volume 19 , Number  2
Pages  123 - 129

Ragiba Makandar , 1 Juliane S. Essig , 2 Melissa A. Schapaugh , 2 Harold N. Trick , 2 and Jyoti Shah 1 , 3

1Division of Biology, 2Department of Plant Pathology, and 3The Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology Program, Kansas State University, Manhattan 66506, U.S.A.

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Accepted 11 October 2005.

Fusarium head blight (FHB) is a devastating disease of wheat and barley which causes extensive losses worldwide. Monogenic, gene-for-gene resistance to FHB has not been reported. The best source of resistance to FHB is a complex, quantitative trait derived from the wheat cv. Sumai 3. Here, we show that the Arabidopsis thaliana NPR1 gene (AtNPR1), which regulates the activation of systemic acquired resistance, when expressed in the FHB-susceptible wheat cv. Bobwhite, confers a heritable, type II resistance to FHB caused by Fusarium graminearum. The heightened FHB resistance in the transgenic AtNPR1-expressing wheat is associated with the faster activation of defense response when challenged by the fungus. PR1 expression is induced rapidly to a high level in the fungus-challenged spikes of the AtNPR1-expressing wheat. Furthermore, benzothiadiazole, a functional analog of salicylic acid, induced PR1 expression faster and to a higher level in the AtNPR1-expressing wheat than in the nontransgenic plants. We suggest that FHB resistance in the AtNPR1-expressing wheat is a result of these plants being more responsive to an endogenous activator of plant defense. Our results demonstrate that NPR1 is an effective candidate for controlling FHB.

Additional keywords: PR gene, scab, transgenic wheat.

© 2006 The American Phytopathological Society