Functional genomic analysis of cotton genes with agrobacterium-mediated virus-induced gene silencing.
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Cotton (Gossypium spp.) is one of the most agronomically important crops worldwide for its unique textile fiber production and serving as food and feed stock. Molecular breeding and genetic engineering of useful genes into cotton have emerged as advanced approaches to improve cotton yield, fiber quality, and resistance to various stresses. However, the understanding of gene functions and regulations in cotton is largely hindered by the limited molecular and biochemical tools. Here, we describe the method of an Agrobacterium infiltration-based virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) assay to transiently silence endogenous genes in cotton at 2-week-old seedling stage. The genes of interest could be readily silenced with a consistently high efficiency. To monitor gene silencing efficiency, we have cloned cotton GrCla1 from G. raimondii, a homolog gene of Arabidopsis Cloroplastos alterados 1 (AtCla1) involved in chloroplast development, and inserted into a tobacco rattle virus (TRV) binary vector pYL156. Silencing of GrCla1 results in albino phenotype on the newly emerging leaves, serving as a visual marker for silencing efficiency. To further explore the possibility of using VIGS assay to reveal the essential genes mediating disease resistance to Verticillium dahliae, a fungal pathogen causing severe Verticillium wilt in cotton, we developed a seedling infection assay to inoculate cotton seedlings when the genes of interest are silenced by VIGS. The method we describe here could be further explored for functional genomic analysis of cotton genes involved in development and various biotic and abiotic stresses.
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