Expression of a truncated form of yeast ribosomal protein L3 in transgenic wheat improves resistance to Fusarium head blight

Rong Di, Ann Blechl, Ruth Dill-Macky, Andrew Tortora, Nilgun E. Tumer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Fusarium head blight (FHB) is a disease that causes major economic losses in wheat and barley production worldwide. Contamination of food with the trichothecene mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON) produced by Fusarium is a major health concern for humans and animals because trichothecenes are potent cytotoxins of eukaryotic cells. Trichothecene mycotoxins inhibit translation by targeting ribosomal protein L3 at the peptidyltransferase center. We previously showed that expression of an N-terminal fragment of yeast L3 (L3Δ) in transgenic tobacco plants reduced the toxicity of DON. Here, we produced transgenic wheat plants that express the same yeast L3 (L3Δ) fragment and evaluated their susceptibility to Fusarium graminearum infection and their ability to accumulate DON. Following F. graminearum infection in greenhouse tests, two transgenic wheat lines expressing the highest levels of L3Δ showed reductions in disease severity and kernel DON levels, compared to non-transformed plants. In a field test, a transgenic wheat line with the highest L3Δ expression controlled by the maize Ubi1 promoter had significant reductions in visually scabby kernels and kernel DON levels. These results demonstrate that expression of a modified form of the ribosomal protein that is the target of DON can improve FHB resistance in wheat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)374-380
Number of pages7
JournalPlant Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank J. Dinman, for the gift of yeast L3 plasmid. In addition, we would like to thank L. Li, J. Lin, A.M. Elakkad, K.J. Wennberg, B. Zagaran for technical assistance and Dr. Yanhong Dong for the mycotoxin analyses. The authors are grateful to Drs. Hanzhong Zhang and John McLaughlin for the statistical analyses. This is a cooperative project no. 59-0790-6-069 supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in cooperation with the U.S. Wheat & Barley Scab Initiative. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


  • Deoxynivalenol
  • Fusarium head blight
  • Ribosomal protein L3
  • Transgenic wheat plants
  • Trichothecene mycotoxin
  • Wheat and barley scab


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