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Soybean mosaic virus Helper Component-Protease Alters Leaf Morphology and Reduces Seed Production in Transgenic Soybean Plants

March 2007 , Volume 97 , Number  3
Pages  366 - 372

Hyoun Sub Lim , Tae Seok Ko , Houston A. Hobbs , Kris N. Lambert , Jun Myoung Yu , Nancy K. McCoppin , Schuyler S. Korban , Glen L. Hartman , and Leslie L. Domier

First, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth, and ninth authors: Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana 61801; second and seventh authors: Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana 61801; sixth, eighth, and ninth authors: United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Urbana, IL 61801

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Accepted for publication 12 September 2006.

Transgenic soybean (Glycine max) plants expressing Soybean mosaic virus (SMV) helper component-protease (HC-Pro) showed altered vegetative and reproductive phenotypes and responses to SMV infection. When inoculated with SMV, transgenic plants expressing the lowest level of HC-Pro mRNA and those transformed with the vector alone initially showed mild SMV symptoms. Plants that accumulated the highest level of SMV HC-Pro mRNA showed very severe SMV symptoms initially, but after 2 weeks symptoms disappeared, and SMV titers were greatly reduced. Analysis of SMV RNA abundance over time with region-specific probes showed that the HC-Pro region of the SMV genome was degraded before the coat protein region. Transgenic soybean plants that expressed SMV HC-Pro showed dose-dependent alterations in unifoliate leaf morphologies and seed production where plants expressing the highest levels of HC-Pro had the most deformed leaves and the lowest seed production. Accumulation of microRNAs (miRNAs) and mRNAs putatively targeted by miRNAs was analyzed in leaves and flowers of healthy, HC-Pro-transgenic, and SMV-infected plants. Neither expression of SMV HC-Pro nor SMV infection produced greater than twofold changes in accumulation of six miRNAs. In contrast, SMV infection was associated with twofold or greater increases in the accumulation of four of seven miRNA-targeted mRNAs tested.

Additional keywords: posttranscriptional gene silencing.

The American Phytopathological Society, 2007