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Transgenic wheat expressing a barley class II chitinase gene has enhanced resistance against Fusarium graminearum

Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, University of Minnesota, 411 Borlaug Hall, 1991 Upper Buford Circle, St Paul, MN 55108, USA.
Journal of Experimental Botany (Impact Factor: 5.79). 02/2008; 59(9):2371-8. DOI: 10.1093/jxb/ern103
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Fusarium head blight (FHB; scab), primarily caused by Fusarium graminearum, is a devastating disease of wheat worldwide. FHB causes yield reductions and contamination of grains with trichothecene mycotoxins such as deoxynivalenol (DON). The genetic variation in existing wheat germplasm pools for FHB resistance is low and may not provide sufficient resistance to develop cultivars through traditional breeding approaches. Thus, genetic engineering provides an additional approach to enhance FHB resistance. The objectives of this study were to develop transgenic wheat expressing a barley class II chitinase and to test the transgenic lines against F. graminearum infection under greenhouse and field conditions. A barley class II chitinase gene was introduced into the spring wheat cultivar, Bobwhite, by biolistic bombardment. Seven transgenic lines were identified that expressed the chitinase transgene and exhibited enhanced Type II resistance in the greenhouse evaluations. These seven transgenic lines were tested under field conditions for percentage FHB severity, percentage visually scabby kernels (VSK), and DON accumulation. Two lines (C8 and C17) that exhibited high chitinase protein levels also showed reduced FHB severity and VSK compared to Bobwhite. One of the lines (C8) also exhibited reduced DON concentration compared with Bobwhite. These results showed that transgenic wheat expressing a barley class II chitinase exhibited enhanced resistance against F. graminearum in greenhouse and field conditions.

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