Title page for ETD etd-02122009-172542

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Zaayman, Dewald
Email dewaldz@tuks.co.za
URN etd-02122009-172542
Document Title Elucidation of Diuraphis noxia biotype-specific responses in Triticum aestivum (98M370 Dn7+)
Degree MSc
Department Genetics
Advisor Name Title
Prof A M Botha-Oberholster Supervisor
  • Diuraphis noxia
  • RWA
  • Russian wheat aphid
Date 2008-09-03
Availability unrestricted

The Russian wheat aphid (Diuraphis noxia, RWA), is a serious pest in most wheat producing countries around the world. Infestation of wheat fields by this pest has a severe economic impact, as a result of heavy losses in crop yield. Because of the importance of wheat as a food source and its ever growing supply demand, the study of wheat-Russian wheat aphid interactions on the molecular level are integral to the development of management strategies. This is highlighted by the fact that new RWA biotypes that overcome resistance in a number of wheat varieties, continually emerge. Therefore, this study aims to contribute to this endeavour, by elucidating the molecular mechanisms by which the RWA resistance gene Dn7 confers resistance to three different RWA biotypes (one from SA, and two from the USA).

Firstly, suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) was applied in order to isolate transcripts differentially expressed in the RWA resistant wheat line, 94M370, carrying the Dn7 gene. There are two main advantages to this technique. One is that the relative representation of rare transcripts is increased in the subsequent cDNA population, and it is these low abundance transcripts that are arguably the ones of particular interest. Secondly, this method allows for the isolation of unknown transcripts, without the need for existing sequence information. Experiments with this method however, failed, leading to an investigation as to probable causes. The various steps involved in the SSH procedure were individually assessed in an attempt to identify and correct the problem. Various adjustments were made to PCR procedures, template enzyme digestions and ligation reactions, without success. After creating a basic cDNA-AFLP fingerprint from the existing cDNA template, in order to confirm that the template is not responsible for experimental difficulties – it was decided to apply a different strategy in order to meet research objectives.

Consequently, the study on Dn7 mediated defence responses was continued with cDNA-AFLP. In addition to studying the response by Dn7 to South African biotype RWA infestation, its responses to infestation by two United States RWA biotypes was also explored. This allowed us to gain a greater comprehension of the methods by which Dn7 activates defences against different aphid eliciting agents. Findings suggest that this gene activates responses that are unique to each of the different aphid interactions. Although the interactions between Dn7 and the two US biotypes were very similar, this can possibly be explained by the fact that the differences between these two biotypes on molecular level are minuscule. Dn7 responds to the South African biotype of the RWA in a completely different manner, as judged by the very dissimilar expression patterns obtained during cDNA-AFLP analysis. Reasons for this phenomenon could include molecular differences between the South African and US RWA biotypes, differences in response generating elicitor molecules (which has indeed been shown to be the case between South African and US aphid biotypes), or a combination of both. The sequencing of fragments displaying differential expression patterns during cDNA-AFLP fingerprinting, provides us with additional information as to the exact mechanisms potentially involved. As expected, various compounds related to plant defence were identified, such as a number of Leucine rich repeat (LRR) domain containing proteins, genes related to cell signalling and genes involved in protein processing (proteases, peptidases). Finally, these results are consistent with theories that Dn7 may recognise and interact with its distinct aphid elicitors either directly, by the presence of multiple bindings sites on the same protein, or indirectly. In that case, in accordance with the guard hypothesis, Dn7 may simply monitor interactions between aphid elicitors and other recognition factors- after which a response cascade is activated. Useful potential research would focus on Dn7 itself, including mapping, isolation as well as structural and functional characterization.

©University of Pretoria 2007

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