Host-induced gene silencing compromises Verticillium wilt in tomato and Arabidopsis: HIGS against Verticillium wilt

Yin Song, Bart P.H.J. Thomma*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


Verticillium wilt, caused by soil-borne fungi of the genus Verticillium, is an economically important disease that affects a wide range of host plants. Unfortunately, host resistance against Verticillium wilts is not available for many plant species, and the disease is notoriously difficult to combat. Host-induced gene silencing (HIGS) is an RNA interference (RNAi)-based process in which small RNAs are produced by the host plant to target parasite transcripts. HIGS has emerged as a promising strategy for the improvement of plant resistance against pathogens by silencing genes that are essential for these pathogens. Here, we assessed whether HIGS can be utilized to suppress Verticillium wilt disease by silencing three previously identified virulence genes of V. dahliae (encoding Ave1, Sge1 and NLP1) through the host plants tomato and Arabidopsis. In transient assays, tomato plants were agroinfiltrated with Tobacco rattle virus (TRV) constructs to target V. dahliae transcripts. Subsequent V. dahliae inoculation revealed the suppression of Verticillium wilt disease on treatment with only one of the three TRV constructs. Next, expression of RNAi constructs targeting transcripts of the same three V. dahliae virulence genes was pursued in stable transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana plants. In this host, V. dahliae inoculation revealed reduced Verticillium wilt disease in two of the three targets. Thus, our study suggests that, depending on the target gene chosen, HIGS against V. dahliae is operational in tomato and A. thaliana plants and may be exploited to engineer resistance in Verticillium wilt-susceptible crops.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-89
JournalMolecular Plant Pathology
Issue number1
Early online date4 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • HIGS
  • RNAi
  • Verticillium
  • Virulence gene


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