Identification of promising host-induced silencing targets among genes preferentially transcribed in haustoria of Puccinia

Chuntao Yin, Samantha I. Downey, Naeh L. Klages-Mundt, Sowmya Ramachandran, Xianming Chen, Les J. Szabo, Michael Pumphrey, Scot H. Hulbert

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36 Scopus citations


Background: The cereal rust fungi are destructive pathogens that affect grain production worldwide. Although the genomic and transcript sequences for three Puccinia species that attack wheat have been released, the functions of large repertories of genes from Puccinia still need to be addressed to understand the infection process of these obligate parasites. Host-induced gene silencing (HIGS) has emerged a useful tool to examine the importance of rust fungus genes while growing within host plants. In this study, HIGS was used to test genes from Puccinia with transcripts enriched in haustoria for their ability to interfere with full development of the rust fungi. Results: Approximately 1200 haustoria enriched genes from Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici (Pgt) were identified by comparative RNA sequencing. Virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) constructs with fragments of 86 Puccinia genes, were tested for their ability to interfere with full development of these rust fungi. Most of the genes tested had no noticeable effects, but 10 reduced Pgt development after co-inoculation with the gene VIGS constructs and Pgt. These included a predicted glycolytic enzyme, two other proteins that are probably secreted and involved in carbohydrate or sugar metabolism, a protein involved in thiazol biosynthesis, a protein involved in auxin biosynthesis, an amino acid permease, two hypothetical proteins with no conserved domains, a predicted small secreted protein and another protein predicted to be secreted with similarity to bacterial proteins involved in membrane transport. Transient silencing of four of these genes reduced development of P. striiformis (Pst), and three of also caused reduction of P. triticina (Pt) development. Conclusions: Partial suppression of transcripts involved in a large variety of biological processes in haustoria cells of Puccinia rusts can disrupt their development. Silencing of three genes resulted in suppression of all three rust diseases indicating that it may be possible to engineer durable resistance to multiple rust pathogens with a single gene in transgenic wheat plants for sustainable control of cereal rusts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number579
JournalBMC Genomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 5 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by National Institute of Food and Agriculture (Award number: 2012-67013-19400), and the Washington Grain Commission. PPNS #0680, Department of Plant Pathology, College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resource Sciences, Agricultural Research Center, Hatch Project No. WNP00663, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, 99164-6430, USA.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Yin et al.


  • Barley stripe mosaic virus
  • Haustorium
  • Host-induced gene silencing
  • Puccinia
  • Virus-induced gene silencing


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