Dose-dependent RNAi-mediated geminivirus resistance in the tropical root crop cassava

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Cassava mosaic disease is a major constraint for cassava production in Africa, resulting in significant economic losses. We have engineered transgenic cassava with resistance to African cassava mosaic virus (ACMV), by expressing ACMV AC1-homologous hairpin double-strand RNAs. Transgenic cassava lines with high levels of AC1-homologous small RNAs have ACMV immunity with increasing viral load and different inoculation methods. We report a correlation between the expression of the AC1-homologous small RNAs and the ACMV resistance of the transgenic cassava lines. Characterization of the small RNAs revealed that only some of the hairpin-derived small RNAs fall into currently known small interfering RNA classes in plants. The method is scalable to stacking by targeting multiple virus isolates with additional hairpins.

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