Genetically engineered resistance against grapevine chrome mosaic nepovirus.
Nepoviruses are a group of isometric plant viruses with a genome divided between two-single-stranded, positive-sense, RNA molecules. They are usually transmitted by nematodes and a number of them have significant economic impact, especially in perennial crops such as grapevine and fruit trees. Like all other picorna-like viruses, nepoviruses express their coat protein (CP) as part of a larger polyprotein which is further processed by a virus-encoded protease, a feature which poses specific problems when trying to express the viral coat protein in transgenic plants. A hybrid gene, driving the high-level expression of the CP of grapevine chrome mosaic nepovirus (GCMV) has been constructed and transferred to the genome of tobacco plants. Progeny of CP-expressing transformants show resistance against GCMV. When compared to control plants, fewer inoculated plants become infected and those that become infected accumulate reduced levels of viral RNAs. This protection was also shown to be efficient when plants are inoculated with purified viral RNA.