Fusarium head blight (FHB), mainly caused by Fusarium graminearum, is a devastating disease of wheat that results in economic losses worldwide. During infection, F. graminearum produces trichothecene mycotoxins, including deoxynivalenol (DON), that increase fungal virulence and reduce grain quality. Transgenic wheat expressing a barley UDP-glucosyltransferase (HvUGT13248) were developed and evaluated for FHB resistance, DON accumulation, and the ability to metabolize DON to the less toxic DON-3-O-glucoside (D3G). Point-inoculation tests in the greenhouse showed that transgenic wheat carrying HvUGT13248 exhibited significantly higher resistance to disease spread in the spike (type II resistance) compared with nontransformed controls. Two transgenic events displayed complete suppression of disease spread in the spikes. Expression of HvUGT13248 in transgenic wheat rapidly and efficiently conjugated DON to D3G, suggesting that the enzymatic rate of DON detoxification translates to type II resistance. Under field conditions, FHB severity was variable; nonetheless, transgenic events showed significantly less-severe disease phenotypes compared with the nontransformed controls. In addition, a seedling assay demonstrated that the transformed plants had a higher tolerance to DON-inhibited root growth than nontransformed plants. These results demonstrate the utility of detoxifying DON as a FHB control strategy in wheat.
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© 2015 The American Phytopathological Society.