Theoretical and Applied Genetics

, Volume 131, Issue 10, pp 2145–2156 | Cite as

Pyramiding of nine transgenes in maize generates high-level resistance against necrotrophic maize pathogens

  • Xiang Zhu
  • Jinfeng Zhao
  • Hafiz Muhammad Khalid Abbas
  • Yunjun Liu
  • Menglan Cheng
  • Jue Huang
  • Wenjuan Cheng
  • Beibei Wang
  • Cuiying Bai
  • Guoying Wang
  • Wubei DongEmail author
Original Article


Key message Nine transgenes from different categories, viz. plant defense response genes and anti-apoptosis genes, played combined roles in maize to inhibit the necrotrophic pathogens Rhizoctonia solani and Bipolaris maydis.


Maize sheath blight and southern corn leaf blight are major global threats to maize production. The management of these necrotrophic pathogens has encountered limited success due to the characteristics of their lifestyle. Here, we presented a transgenic pyramiding breeding strategy to achieve nine different resistance genes integrated in one transgenic maize line to combat different aspects of necrotrophic pathogens. These nine genes, selected from two different categories, plant defense response genes (Chi, Glu, Ace-AMP1, Tlp, Rs-AFP2, ZmPROPEP1 and Pti4), and anti-apoptosis genes (Iap and p35), were successfully transferred into maize and further implicated in resistance against the necrotrophic pathogens Rhizoctonia solani and Bipolaris maydis. Furthermore, the transgenic maize line 910, with high expression levels of the nine integrated genes, was selected from 49 lines. Under greenhouse and field trial conditions, line 910 showed significant resistance against maize sheath blight and southern corn leaf blight diseases. Higher-level resistance was obtained after the pyramiding of more resistance transgenes from different categories that function via different mechanisms. The present study provides a successful strategy for the management of necrotrophic pathogens.



We would like to thank Kangkang Wan, Lun Zhou, Junwei Shi, Wei Kuang, Rujing Lv, Jiaojiao Huan, Min Wang, Ling Lv, Lulu Chen, Xuan Tang, Lilin Wang, Wenjin HU and Tingting Zhang for their part-time job in field trial experiments. This work was supported by the National Major Project for Transgenic Organism Breeding (2011ZX08003-001 and 2016ZX08003-001) and the Hubei Provincial Technology Innovation Program (2016ABA093).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

122_2018_3143_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (724 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 724 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiang Zhu
    • 1
  • Jinfeng Zhao
    • 2
  • Hafiz Muhammad Khalid Abbas
    • 1
  • Yunjun Liu
    • 3
  • Menglan Cheng
    • 1
  • Jue Huang
    • 1
  • Wenjuan Cheng
    • 1
  • Beibei Wang
    • 1
  • Cuiying Bai
    • 1
  • Guoying Wang
    • 3
  • Wubei Dong
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Plant Pathology, College of Plant Science and Technology and the Key Lab of Crop Disease Monitoring and Safety Control in Hubei ProvinceHuazhong Agricultural UniversityWuhanChina
  2. 2.Millet Research InstituteShanxi Academy of Agricultural SciencesChangzhiChina
  3. 3.Institute of Crop ScienceChinese Academy of Agricultural SciencesBeijingChina

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