Resistance to Ditylenchus destructor Infection in Sweet Potato by the Expression of Small Interfering RNAs Targeting unc-15, a Movement-Related Gene.

PMID 26034810


Stem nematode (Ditylenchus destructor) is one of most serious diseases that limit the productivity and quality of sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), a root crop with worldwide importance for food security and nutrition improvement. Hence, there is a global demand for developing sweet potato varieties that are resistant to the disease. In this study, we have investigated the interference of stem nematode infectivity by the expression of small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) in transgenic sweet potato that are homologous to the unc-15 gene, which affects the muscle protein paramyosin of the pathogen. The production of double-stranded RNAs and siRNAs in transgenic lines with a single transgene integration event was verified by Northern blot analysis. The expression of unc-15 was reduced dramatically in stem nematodes collected from the inoculated storage roots of transgenic plants, and the infection areas of their storage roots were dramatically smaller than that of wild-type (WT). Compared with the WT, the transgenic plants showed increased yield in the stem nematode-infested field. Our results demonstrate that the expression of siRNAs targeting the unc-15 gene of D. destructor is an effective approach in improving stem nematode resistance in sweet potato, in adjunct with the global integrated pest management programs.