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Eduard Venter, e-mail:
Oral Presentation
Plant Biotechnology/Plant Molecular Biology

Resistance gene regulation by microRNA in Diuraphis noxia infested wheat

E. Venter, V.F. Nicolis
Department of Botany and Plant Biotechnology, University of Johannesburg, PO Box 524, Auckland Park, 2006, South Africa

Wheat is an important food source in the world. Its production is challenged by the occurrence of plant pathogens and pests. In South Africa the biggest problems are related to rusts and Diuraphis noxia (the Russian wheat aphid). The interaction between D. noxia and wheat has been studied in depth at the gene expression level. There is, however, a lack in our understanding on how these genes are regulated. To further our understanding of this complex process we are studying the expression of microRNA during the interaction. These nucleic acids do not code for proteins but regulate gene expression at several levels. Selected microRNA from the interaction had resistance genes as possible targets for regulation. Several of the identified resistance genes were only reported from the wheat genome sequence and have not yet been deposited in other databases or gene expression studies. Three of these resistance proteins included DNA binding and protein-protein interaction domains bundled with the nucleotide-binding-leucine-rich-repeat domains. Expression analyses of both the microRNA and their putative targets displayed similar regulation profiles for the resistance gene transcripts. One miRNA, tae-miR8011a, displayed distinct regulation profiles between susceptible and resistant wheat near isogenic lines. One of its possible targets, located in the Sr35 resistance gene cluster, also displayed differential regulation between the near isogenic lines, albeit not necessarily directly reflected by the microRNA. This study is providing information that will further elucidate our understanding of how wheat plants respond to pests.