Heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) molecular chaperones play important roles in plant growth and responses to environmental stimuli. However, little is known about the genes encoding Hsp90s in common wheat. Here, we report genetic and functional analysis of the genes specifying cytosolic Hsp90s in this species. Three groups of homoeologous genes (TaHsp90.1, TaHsp90.2 and TaHsp90.3), encoding three types of cytosolic Hsp90, were isolated. The loci containing TaHsp90.1, TaHsp90.2 and TaHsp90.3 genes were assigned to groups 2, 7 and 5 chromosomes, respectively. TaHsp90.1 genes exhibited higher transcript levels in the stamen than in the leaf, root and culm. TaHsp90.2 and TaHsp90.3 genes were more ubiquitously transcribed in the vegetative and reproductive organs examined. Decreasing the expression of TaHsp90.1 genes through virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) caused pronounced inhibition of wheat seedling growth, whereas the suppression of TaHsp90.2 or TaHsp90.3 genes via VIGS compromised the hypersensitive resistance response of the wheat variety Suwon 11 to stripe rust fungus. Our work represents the first systematic determination of wheat genes encoding cytosolic Hsp90s, and provides useful evidence for the functional involvement of cytosolic Hsp90s in the control of seedling growth and disease resistance in common wheat.
© 2011 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2011 New Phytologist Trust.