Generation of transgenic rootstock plum ((Prunus pumila L. × P. salicina Lindl.) × (P. cerasifera Ehrh.)) using hairpin-RNA construct for resistance to the plum pox virus
The use of Prunus rootstocks that are resistant to plum pox virus (PPV) is an important agronomic strategy to combat the spread of the Sharka disease in nurseries and orchards. Despite remarkable progress in developing stone fruit rootstocks to adapt to various stresses, breeding that ensures durable virus resistance has not yet been achieved. For this reason, the engineering of PPV resistant plants through genetic transformation is a very promising approach to control sharka disease. The aim of the present study is to produce transgenic plants of the clonal rootstock ‘Elita’, which is resistant to PPV using ribonucleic acid interference (RNAi) technology. The genetic construct containing the self-complementary fragments of the plum pox virus coat protein (PPV-CP) gene sequence were used to induce the mechanism of post-transcriptional gene silencing to ensure virus resistance. Transgenic plants have been produced after agrobacterium-mediated transformation of in vitro explanted leaves. The results of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and Southern blotting analyses confirmed the stable genomic integration of the PPV-CP sense and antisense intron-hairpin-RNA sequence. The functionality of the introduced expression cassette was confirmed by the activity of including the uidA gene into the transferring T-DNA. To our knowledge, this is the first interspecific plum rootstock produced by genetic engineering to achieve PPV resistance.