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Exogenous double-stranded RNA inhibits the infection physiology of rust fungi to reduce symptoms in planta

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Degnan, R. M., McTaggart, A. R., Shuey, L. S., Pame, L. J. S., Smith, G. R., Gardiner, D. M., Nock, V., Soffe, R., Sale, S., Garrill, A., Carroll, B. J., Mitter, N. and Sawyer, A. (2023) Exogenous double-stranded RNA inhibits the infection physiology of rust fungi to reduce symptoms in planta. Molecular Plant Pathology, 24 (3). pp. 191-207. ISSN 1464-6722


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1111/mpp.13286

Publisher URL: https://bsppjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/mpp.13286


Rust fungi (Pucciniales) are a diverse group of plant pathogens in natural and agricultural systems. They pose ongoing threats to the diversity of native flora and cause annual crop yield losses. Agricultural rusts are predominantly managed with fungicides and breeding for resistance, but new control strategies are needed on non-agricultural plants and in fragile ecosystems. RNA interference (RNAi) induced by exogenous double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) has promise as a sustainable approach for managing plant-pathogenic fungi, including rust fungi. We investigated the mechanisms and impact of exogenous dsRNA on rust fungi through in vitro and whole-plant assays using two species as models, Austropuccinia psidii (the cause of myrtle rust) and Coleosporium plumeriae (the cause of frangipani rust). In vitro, dsRNA either associates externally or is internalized by urediniospores during the early stages of germination. The impact of dsRNA on rust infection architecture was examined on artificial leaf surfaces. dsRNA targeting predicted essential genes significantly reduced germination and inhibited development of infection structures, namely appressoria and penetration pegs. Exogenous dsRNA sprayed onto 1-year-old trees significantly reduced myrtle rust symptoms. Furthermore, we used comparative genomics to assess the wide-scale amenability of dsRNA to control rust fungi. We sequenced genomes of six species of rust fungi, including three new families (Araucariomyceaceae, Phragmidiaceae, and Skierkaceae) and identified key genes of the RNAi pathway across 15 species in eight families of Pucciniales. Together, these findings indicate that dsRNA targeting essential genes has potential for broad-use management of rust fungi across natural and agricultural systems.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Horticulture and Forestry Science
Keywords:dsRNA, fungal genomics, in vitro, myrtle rust, RNAi, rust fungi, spore germination
Subjects:Science > Botany > Genetics
Plant pests and diseases
Plant pests and diseases > Plant pathology
Forestry > Research. Experimentation
Live Archive:10 Jan 2023 06:25
Last Modified:20 Jul 2023 04:13

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