Chinese researchers have discovered a gene that can enhance resistance to wheat yellow mosaic disease, which causes significant losses in crop yield, according to a report in China Science Daily on Monday.
The wheat yellow mosaic disease is prevalent in China and is caused by a soil-borne virus known as the wheat yellow mosaic virus (WYMV). The best defense against this disease is to cultivate resistant varieties of wheat, making it crucial to explore gene resources with antiviral properties.
The researchers from the Institute of Crop Science under the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences used genome-editing technology to create wheat editing material by knocking out a translation initiation factor gene called TaeIF4E, and cultivated its single, double and triple mutant varieties.
The study found that after being infected by WYMV, only the triple mutant variety showed total resistance to the virus and normal seed setting without yield penalty. The single and double mutant varieties showed severely stunted growth and lower seed setting.
It proved that TaeIF4E takes part in WYMV infection as a susceptibility factor gene, said the study, highlighting the potential of engineering virus resistance by genome editing of this gene among major wheat varieties.
The study was published in the journal Plant Biotechnology Journal.