James E. Jurgenson,2 and
Scot H. Hulbert1
1Department of Plant Pathology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-6430, U.S.A.; 2Department of Biology, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA 50614, U.S.A.
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Accepted 20 December 2010.
Rust fungi cause devastating diseases of wheat and other cereal species globally. Genetic resistance is the preferred method to control rusts but the effectiveness of race-specific resistance is typically transient due to the genetic plasticity of rust populations. The advent of RNA interference (RNAi) technology has shown promise for the engineering of resistance to some biotrophic pathogens in plants by altering the expression of essential pathogens' genes. Gene fragments from the rust fungi Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici or P. graminis f. sp. tritici were delivered to plant cells through the Barley stripe mosaic virus system, and some reduced the expression of the corresponding genes in the rust fungus. The ability to detect suppression was associated with the expression patterns of the fungal genes because reduction was only detected in transcripts with relatively high levels of expression in fungal haustoria. The results indicate that an in planta RNAi approach can be used in functional genomics research for rust fungi and that it could potentially be used to engineer durable resistance.
© 2011 The American Phytopathological Society