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Open Access Research article

Overexpression of GmAKT2 potassium channel enhances resistance to soybean mosaic virus

Lian Zhou1, Hongli He2, Ruifang Liu1, Qiang Han1, Huixia Shou1* and Bao Liu2*

Author Affiliations

1 State Key Laboratory of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, P. R. China

2 Key Laboratory of Molecular Epigenetics of Ministry of Education, Northeast Normal University, Changchun 130024, China

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BMC Plant Biology 2014, 14:154  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-154

Published: 3 June 2014

Abstract

Background

Soybean mosaic virus (SMV) is the most prevalent viral disease in many soybean production areas. Due to a large number of SMV resistant loci and alleles, SMV strains and the rapid evolution in avirulence/effector genes, traditional breeding for SMV resistance is complex. Genetic engineering is an effective alternative method for improving SMV resistance in soybean. Potassium (K+) is the most abundant inorganic solute in plant cells, and is involved in plant responses to abiotic and biotic stresses. Studies have shown that altering the level of K+ status can reduce the spread of the viral diseases. Thus K+ transporters are putative candidates to target for soybean virus resistance.

Results

The addition of K+ fertilizer significantly reduced SMV incidence. Analysis of K+ channel gene expression indicated that GmAKT2, the ortholog of Arabidopsis K+ weak channel encoding gene AKT2, was significantly induced by SMV inoculation in the SMV highly-resistant genotype Rsmv1, but not in the susceptible genotype Ssmv1. Transgenic soybean plants overexpressing GmAKT2 were produced and verified by Southern blot and RT-PCR analysis. Analysis of K+ concentrations on different leaves of both the transgenic and the wildtype (Williams 82) plants revealed that overexpression of GmAKT2 significantly increased K+ concentrations in young leaves of plants. In contrast, K+ concentrations in the old leaves of the GmAKT2-Oe plants were significantly lower than those in WT plants. These results indicated that GmAKT2 acted as a K+ transporter and affected the distribution of K+ in soybean plants. Starting from 14 days after inoculation (DAI) of SMV G7, severe mosaic symptoms were observed on the WT leaves. In contrast, the GmAKT2-Oe plants showed no symptom of SMV infection. At 14 and 28 DAI, the amount of SMV RNA in WT plants increased 200- and 260- fold relative to GmAKT2-Oe plants at each time point. Thus, SMV development was significantly retarded in GmAKT2-overexpressing transgenic soybean plants.

Conclusions

Overexpression of GmAKT2 significantly enhanced SMV resistance in transgenic soybean. Thus, alteration of K+ transporter expression is a novel molecular approach for enhancing SMV resistance in soybean.

Keywords:
Soybean mosaic virus; Resistance; Potassium channel; GmAKT2