Replicase mediated resistance against Potato Leafroll Virus in potato Desirée plants
Potato leafroll virus (PLRV) is a major menace for the potato production all over the world. PLRV is transmitted by aphids, and until now, the only strategy available to control this pest has been to use large amounts of insecticides. Transgenic approaches involving the expression of viral replicases are being developed to provide protection for plants against viral diseases. The purpose of this study was to compare the protection afforded by the differential expression of PLRV replicase transgene in potato plants cv. Desirée. Plants were genetically modified to express the complete sense PLRV replicase gene. Two constructions were used, one containing the constitutive 35SCaMV promoter and the other the phloem-specific RolA promoter from Agrobacterium rhizogenes. Transgenic plants were infected with PLRV in vitro, using infested aphids. In plants in which 35SCaMV controlled the expression of the PLRV replicase gene, signs of infection were initially detected, although most plants later developed a recovery phenotype showing undetectable virus levels 40 days after infection. In turn, those plants with the RolA promoter displayed an initial resistance that was later overcome. Different molecular mechanisms are likely to participate in the response to PLRV infection of these two types of transgenic plants.