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Generating transgenic banana (cv. Sukali Ndizi) resistant to Fusarium Wilt

By Betty Magambo

Abstract

Banana is one of the world’s most popular fruit crops and Sukali Ndizi is the most popular dessert banana in the East African region. Like other banana cultivars, Sukali Ndizi is threatened by several constraints, of which the Fusarium wilt disease is the most destructive. Fusarium wilt is caused by a soil-borne fungus, Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense (Foc). No effective control strategy currently exists for this disease and although disease resistance exists in some banana cultivars, introducing resistance into commercial cultivars by conventional breeding is difficult because of low fertility. Considering that conventional breeding generates hybrids with additional undesirable traits, transformation is the most suitable way of introducing resistance in the banana genome. The success of this strategy depends on the availability of genes for genetic transformation. Recently, a novel strategy involving the expression of anti-apoptosis genes in plants was shown to result in resistance against several necrotrophic fungi, including Foc race 1 in banana cultivar Lady Finger. This thesis explores the potential of a plant-codon optimised nematode anti-apoptosis gene (Mced9) to provide resistance against Foc race 1 in dessert banana cultivar Sukali Ndizi.\ud \ud Agrobacterium-mediated transformation was used to transform embryogenic cell suspension of Sukali Ndizi with plant expression vector pYC11, harbouring maize ubiquitin promoter driven Mced9 gene and nptII as a plant selection marker. A total of 42 independently transformed lines were regenerated and characterized. The transgenic lines were multiplied, infected and evaluated for resistance to Foc race 1 in a small pot bioassay. The pathogenicity of the Ugandan Foc race 1 isolate used for infection was pre-determined and the spore concentration was standardised for consistent infection and symptom development. This process involved challenging tissue culture plants of Sukali Ndizi, a Foc race 1 susceptible cultivar and Nakinyika, an East African Highland cultivar known to be resistant to Foc race 1, with Fusarium inoculum and observing external and internal disease symptom development.\ud \ud Rhizome discolouration symptoms were the best indicators of Fusarium wilt with yellowing being an early sign of disease. Three transgenic lines were found to show significantly less disease severities compared to the wild-type control plants after 13 weeks of infection, indicating that Mced9 has the potential to provide tolerance to Fusarium wilt in Sukali Ndizi

Topics: Banana, Sukali Ndizi y, Fusarium Wilt Disease, soil-borne fungus
Publisher: Queensland University of Technology
Year: 2012
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.qut.edu.au:61024

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