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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fargo, North Dakota » Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center » Sunflower Improvement Research » Research » Research Project #436703

Research Project: Role of WRKY Transcription Factors in Quantitative Resistance to Sclerotinia sclerotiorum

Location: Sunflower Improvement Research

Project Number: 3060-21220-034-005-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2019
End Date: Dec 31, 2023

The central objective of the research project is to determine the role of five WRKY family transcription factors in resistance of Arabidopsis thaliana to Sclerotinia sclerotiorum infection using a reverse genetic approach. These WRKY transcription factors were identified by a genome-wide association mapping effort using an Arabidopsis diversity panel. A second objective is to characterize gene expression and promoter and coding region sequences for AtWRKY27 and its canola and sunflower homologues in resistant compared to susceptible lines of Arabidopsis, canola, and sunflower. The final project objective is to identify the entire complement of WRKY family transcription factor genes in the sequenced sunflower genome.

To confirm the role of the five identified WRKY transcription factors in Arabidopsis resistance to Sclerotinia, we will acquire publicly available T-DNA insertional mutants disrupted in each of the transcription factor genes. We will subsequently evaluate these mutant lines for altered resistance to Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. To assess the potential role of AtWRKY27 homologues in canola and sunflower resistance to Sclerotinia, we will evaluate the gene expression level of these genes in resistant compared to susceptible lines and we will compare the promoter and coding sequences of the genes among these lines. Finally, to identify sunflower WRKY transcription factor genes, we will search the completed sunflower reference genome for genes carrying the conserved WRKY domain and determine their phylogenetic relationships.