Characterization of a foxtail mosaic virus vector for gene silencing and analysis of innate immune responses in Sorghum bicolor

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Bredow, Melissa
Natukunda, Martha Ibore
Beernink, Bliss M.
Chicowski, Aline Sartor
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© 2022 The Authors
Salas-Fernandez, Maria
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Whitham, Steven
Assistant Professor
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Plant Pathology, Entomology and Microbiology
The Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology and the Department of Entomology officially merged as of September 1, 2022. The new department is known as the Department of Plant Pathology, Entomology, and Microbiology (PPEM). The overall mission of the Department is to benefit society through research, teaching, and extension activities that improve pest management and prevent disease. Collectively, the Department consists of about 100 faculty, staff, and students who are engaged in research, teaching, and extension activities that are central to the mission of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The Department possesses state-of-the-art research and teaching facilities in the Advanced Research and Teaching Building and in Science II. In addition, research and extension activities are performed off-campus at the Field Extension Education Laboratory, the Horticulture Station, the Agriculture Engineering/Agronomy Farm, and several Research and Demonstration Farms located around the state. Furthermore, the Department houses the Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic, the Iowa Soybean Research Center, the Insect Zoo, and BugGuide. Several USDA-ARS scientists are also affiliated with the Department.
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The Department of Agronomy seeks to teach the study of the farm-field, its crops, and its science and management. It originally consisted of three sub-departments to do this: Soils, Farm-Crops, and Agricultural Engineering (which became its own department in 1907). Today, the department teaches crop sciences and breeding, soil sciences, meteorology, agroecology, and biotechnology.

The Department of Agronomy was formed in 1902. From 1917 to 1935 it was known as the Department of Farm Crops and Soils.

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  • Department of Farm Crops and Soils (1917–1935)

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Sorghum is vulnerable to many biotic and abiotic stresses, which cause considerable yield losses globally. Efforts to genetically characterize beneficial sorghum traits, including disease resistance, plant architecture, and tolerance to abiotic stresses, are ongoing. One challenge faced by sorghum researchers is its recalcitrance to transformation, which has slowed gene validation efforts and utilization for cultivar development. Here, we characterize the use of a foxtail mosaic virus (FoMV) vector for virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) by targeting two previously tested marker genes: phytoene desaturase (PDS) and ubiquitin (Ub). We additionally demonstrate VIGS of a subgroup of receptor-like cytoplasmic kinases (RLCKs) and report the role of these genes as positive regulators of early defence signalling. Silencing of subgroup 8 RLCKs also resulted in higher susceptibility to the bacterial pathogens Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae (B728a) and Xanthomonas vasicola pv. holcicola, demonstrating the role of these genes in host defence against bacterial pathogens. Together, this work highlights the utility of FoMV-induced gene silencing in the characterization of genes mediating defence responses in sorghum. Moreover, FoMV was able to systemically infect six diverse sorghum genotypes with high efficiency at optimal temperatures for sorghum growth and therefore could be extrapolated to study additional traits of economic importance.
This article is published as Bredow, Melissa, Martha Ibore Natukunda, Bliss M. Beernink, Aline Sartor Chicowski, Maria G. Salas‐Fernandez, and Steven A. Whitham. "Characterization of a foxtail mosaic virus vector for gene silencing and analysis of innate immune responses in Sorghum bicolor." Molecular Plant Pathology (2022). doi:10.1111/mpp.13270.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.