, Volume 31, Issue 5, pp 851-862
Date: 05 Jan 2012

Gene silencing using the recessive rice bacterial blight resistance gene xa13 as a new paradigm in plant breeding

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Abstract

Resistant germplasm resources are valuable for developing resistant varieties in agricultural production. However, recessive resistance genes are usually overlooked in hybrid breeding. Compared with dominant traits, however, they may confer resistance to different pathogenic races or pest biotypes with different mechanisms of action. The recessive rice bacterial blight resistance gene xa13, also involved in pollen development, has been cloned and its resistance mechanism has been recently characterized. This report describes the conversion of bacterial blight resistance mediated by the recessive xa13 gene into a dominant trait to facilitate its use in a breeding program. This was achieved by knockdown of the corresponding dominant allele Xa13 in transgenic rice using recently developed artificial microRNA technology. Tissue-specific promoters were used to exclude most of the expression of artificial microRNA in the anther to ensure that Xa13 functioned normally during pollen development. A battery of highly bacterial blight resistant transgenic plants with normal seed setting rates were acquired, indicating that highly specific gene silencing had been achieved. Our success with xa13 provides a paradigm that can be adapted to other recessive resistance genes.

Communicated by P. Ozias-Akins.