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ARS Home » Midwest Area » West Lafayette, Indiana » Crop Production and Pest Control Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #251969

Title: Rapid Determination of Gene Function by Virus-Induced Gene Silencing in Wheat and Barley

item Scofield, Steven - Steve
item GILLESPIE, MEGAN - Purdue University
item Cakir, Cahid

Submitted to: Crop Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/13/2010
Publication Date: 3/8/2010
Citation: Scofield, S.R., Gillespie, M., Cakir, C. 2010. Rapid Determination of Gene Function by Virus-Induced Gene Silencing in Wheat and Barley. Crop Science. 50:77-84.

Interpretive Summary: Wheat occupies a central position in the world food supply. Significant genetic improvement of wheat is required to meet the greatly increased future production requirements. Unfortunately, several aspects of wheat’s biology provide great impediments to wheat improvement. Prime among these characteristics are the large size of the wheat genome, its hexaploidy and the difficulty with which it can be transformed. Virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) is a new tool that can overcome these obstacles and provide a way to rapidly identify the function of wheat genes. This article describes a VIGS system for wheat and relates several examples of how this tool has been used to answer important questions about wheat genetics.

Technical Abstract: The cereal crops are essential components to the human and animal food supply. Solutions to many of the problems challenging cereal production will require identification of genes responsible for particular traits. Unfortunately, the process of identifying gene function is very slow and complex in crop plants. In wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) this process is made very difficult by the very large size and complexity of their genomes and the difficulty with which these crops can be genetically transformed. Additionally, the polyploidy of wheat greatly complicates any approach based on mutational analysis because functional, homeologous genes often mask genetic mutations. Virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) is an important new tool that overcomes many of these obstacles and promises to greatly facilitate the assessment of gene function. A VIGS system based on Barley Stripe Mosaic Virus (BSMV) has recently been developed for use in wheat and barley. The BSMV-VIGS system allows researchers to switch-off or “knockdown” the expression of chosen genes so that the gene’s function may be inferred based on the knockout phenotypes. This article describes the characteristics of the BSMV-VIGS system, relates examples of its application for functional genomics in wheat and barley, and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of this approach.