Virus-induced gene silencing can persist for more than 2 years and also be transmitted to progeny seedlings in Nicotiana benthamiana and tomato.

Plant Biology Division, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore, OK, USA.
Plant Biotechnology Journal (Impact Factor: 6.28). 01/2011; 9(7):797-806. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7652.2011.00589.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) is one of the commonly used RNA silencing methods in plant functional genomics. It is widely known that VIGS can occur for about 3 weeks. A few reports show that duration of VIGS can be prolonged for up to 3 months. Increasing the duration of endogenous gene silencing and developing a method for nonintegration-based persistent VIGS in progeny seedlings will widen the application of VIGS. We used three marker genes that provoke visible phenotypes in plants upon silencing to study persistence and transmittance of VIGS to progeny in two plant species, Nicotiana benthamiana and tomato. We used a Tobacco rattle virus (TRV)-based VIGS vector and showed that the duration of gene silencing by VIGS can occur for more than 2 years and that TRV is necessary for longer duration VIGS. Also, inoculation of TRV-VIGS constructs by both Agrodrench and leaf infiltration greatly increased the effectiveness and duration of VIGS. Our results also showed transmittance of VIGS to progeny seedlings via seeds. A longer silencing period will facilitate detailed study of target genes in plant development and stress tolerance. Further, the transmittance of VIGS to progeny will be useful in studying the effect of gene silencing in young seedlings. Our results provide a new dimension for the application of VIGS in plants.

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