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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fargo, North Dakota » Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center » Sunflower and Plant Biology Research » Research » Research Project #435182

Research Project: Targeting Essential Genes in Sclerotinia Sclerotiorum to Achieve Sclerotinia Stem Rot Resistance in Soybean

Location: Sunflower and Plant Biology Research

Project Number: 3060-21220-031-23-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2018
End Date: Dec 31, 2019

Objective:
1. Target key S. sclerotiorum genes using Host Induced Gene Silencing (HIGS); 2. Develop transgenic soybean plants with silencing constructs targeting the most promising S. sclerotiorum genes; and 3. Evaluate RNA (dsRNA and sRNA) uptake to inhibit S. sclerotiorum pathogenic development.

Approach:
Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, the causal agent of Sclerotinia stem rot (SSR), is a yield limiting fungal pathogen of soybean. The pathogenic success of S. sclerotiorum requires the secretion of oxalic acid (OA), a key virulence factor for this pathogen. In this proposal, we will engineer soybean plants through a process called Host Induced Gene Silencing (HIGS) capable of turning off this key virulence factor (OA) in the fungus, as well as other virulence factors and important structural components of S. sclerotiorum. This work will provide evidence supporting HIGS that targets virulence factors and fungal structural components as a viable strategy to control SSR in spybean. Our study will also evaluate exogenous applications of RNA (dsRNA and sRNA) to limit fungal growth and OA production.