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Open Access Research

An in planta, Agrobacterium-mediated transient gene expression method for inducing gene silencing in rice (Oryza sativa L.) leaves

Aurélie Andrieu1, Jean Christophe Breitler1, Christelle Siré1, Donaldo Meynard1, Pascal Gantet2 and Emmanuel Guiderdoni1*

Author Affiliations

1 CIRAD, UMR AGAP, TAA108/03, Av Agropolis, F-34398 Montpellier Cedex 05, France

2 Université Montpellier II, UMR DIADE, F-34398 Montpellier Cedex 05, France

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Rice 2012, 5:23  doi:10.1186/1939-8433-5-23

Published: 31 August 2012

Abstract

Background

Localized introduction and transient expression of T-DNA constructs mediated by agro-infiltration of leaf tissues has been largely used in dicot plants for analyzing the transitivity and the cell-to cell movement of the RNAi signal. In cereals, however, the morphology of the leaf and particularly the structure of the leaf epidermis, prevent infiltration of a bacterial suspension in cells by simple pressure, a method otherwise successful in dicots leaves. This study aimed at establishing a rapid method for the functional analysis of rice genes based on the triggering of RNA interference (RNAi) following Agrobacterium-mediated transient transformation of leaves.

Results

Using an agro-infection protocol combining a wound treatment and a surfactant, we were able to obtain in a reliable manner transient expression of a T-DNA-borne uidA gene in leaf cells of japonica and indica rice cultivars. Using this protocol to transiently inhibit gene expression in leaf cells, we introduced hairpin RNA (hpRNA) T-DNA constructs containing gene specific tags of the phytoene desaturase (OsPDS) and of the SLENDER 1 (OsSLR1) genes previously proven to trigger RNAi of target genes in stable transformants. SiRNA accumulation was observed in the agro-infected leaf area for both constructs indicating successful triggering of the silencing signal. Accumulation of secondary siRNA was observed in both stably and transiently transformed leaf tissues expressing the HpRNA OsSLR1 construct. Gene silencing signalling was investigated in monitoring the parallel time course of OsPDS-derived mRNA and siRNA accumulation in the agro-infiltrated leaf area and adjacent systemic sectors. The sensitive RT-Q-PCR method evidenced a consistent, parallel decrease of OsPDS transcripts in both the agroinfiltred and adjacent tissues, with a time lag for the latter.

Conclusions

These results indicate that the method is efficient at inducing gene silencing in the agro-infected leaf area. The transfer of low amounts of siRNA, probably occurring passively through the symplastic pathway from the agro-infected area, seemed sufficient to trigger degradation of target transcripts in the adjacent tissues. This method is therefore well suited to study the cell-to-cell movement of the silencing signal in a monocot plant and further test the functionality of natural and artificial miRNA expression constructs.

Keywords:
Agrobacterium tumefaciens; Gene silencing; Leaf agroinfection; OsPDS; OsSRL1; Rice; Transitivity; Cross silencing