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Spanish researchers develop tomato plants resistant to Tomato spotted wilt virus

Through a technique regulating gene expression, a group of researchers from the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology of Plants (IBMCP) - mixed center of the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) and the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) - has managed to produce tomato plants resistant to the tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV).

Gene silencing is a technique that allows selective "on" and "off" switching of genes and has been used successfully in plants to induce resistance against some viruses.

According to Alberto Carbonell, a researcher at IBMCP, “one of the most successful RNAi-based antiviral techniques is to induce the expression of small artificial RNA's designed to inhibit the replication of viral RNA's. In our project, we have worked with two types of small artificial RNA's: artificial microRNA's, or amiRNA, and small synthetic transactive interfering RNA,'s or syn-tasiRNA. We have then analyzed the level of resistance to viruses capable of causing great losses, such as the TSWV, in plants that express a single antiviral amiRNA and in others that simultaneously express four antiviral syn-tasiRNA, each with a different target site.”

The work of the IBMCP researchers has shown that plants that express a single antiviral amiRNA are more susceptible to TSWV, because the virus easily accumulates mutations at the amiRNA target site, allowing it to evade its action and continue with the infection. In contrast, plants that simultaneously express four antiviral syn-tasiRNA's are, for the most part, totally resistant to TSWV, probably due to the combined effect of each syn-tasiRNA.

"With our work we have managed to produce tomato plants resistant to TSWV and demonstrate the usefulness and suitability of the syn-tasiRNA-based strategy to generate crops resistant to viral infections," said Carbonell.

The results of the work have been published in The Plant Journal.

Source: UPV /

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