Technical advance. Double-stranded RNA interferes with gene function at the single-cell level in cereals

Plant J. 2000 Dec;24(6):895-903. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-313x.2000.00941.x.


Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) has been shown to specifically interfere with gene function in several organisms including tobacco and the model plant Arabidopsis. Here, we report on rapid and sequence-specific interference of dsRNA with gene function in cereals. Delivery of cognate dsRNA into single epidermal cells of maize, barley or wheat by particle bombardment interfered with the function of co-bombarded UidA (GUS) and TaGLP2a:GFP reporter genes. Cognate dsRNA was also found to specifically interfere with the function of the endogenous genes A1 and Ant18 encoding dihydroflavonol-4-reductase in maize and barley, respectively. Dihydroflavonol-4-reductase is an essential enzyme of the anthocyanin biosynthetic pathway in maize and barley. This pathway can be induced by transient expression of the C1- and b-Peru genes that encode transcription factors. In the presence of dsRNA corresponding to the dihydroflavonol-4-reductase gene, C1- and b-Peru-dependent, cell-autonomous accumulation of red anthocyanin pigments in bombarded cells of maize and barley was reduced. dsRNA was also demonstrated to negatively interfere with Mlo, which encodes a negative regulator of race non-specific resistance to the powdery mildew fungus in barley. In the presence of Mlo dsRNA, transformed cells became more resistant, thereby phenocopying plants that carry a heritable loss-of function mlo resistance allele. The results suggest that direct delivery of dsRNA to cereals leads to a rapid and sequence-specific interference with gene function at the single-cell level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • Ascomycota / physiology
  • Edible Grain / genetics*
  • Edible Grain / microbiology
  • Genes, Plant*
  • Hordeum / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • RNA, Double-Stranded / physiology*
  • RNA, Plant / physiology*
  • Triticum / genetics
  • Zea mays / genetics


  • MLO protein, Hordeum vulgare
  • Plant Proteins
  • RNA, Double-Stranded
  • RNA, Plant
  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases
  • dihydroflavanol 4-reductase

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AJ237942
  • GENBANK/S69616