We developed an innovative RNAi concept based on two gene constructs built from the capsid gene (CP) cistron of the Plum pox virus (PPV) genome. First, designated as amiCPRNA, a potential molecule interfering with PPV genome translation and the second one is the ami-siCPRNA to target viral genome translation and PPV RNA replication. Following the previous engineering of these constructs in an experimental herbaceous host, they were introduced into Prunus domestica (plum tree) genome. Previously propagated onto a susceptible rootstock, these clones were graft-inoculated with PPV. After four dormancy cycles, and consistent with our experience of PPV infection, some clones showed a common phenomenon of silencing that can differ between the detailed plant phenotypes. Three different phenotypes were developed by the amisiCPRNA clones. First, the high resistance character shown by the amisiCPRNA plum-7 that was similar to the resistance expressed by HoneySweet plum. Secondly, a recovery reaction was developed by the two other amisiCPRNA plum-3 and plum-4 that differed from the rest, characterized as susceptible clones, among these were the amiCPRNA plums. Having assessed the behavior of these plums versus the herbaceous host accumulating the similar form of RNAi: ami-, si-, and ami-siRNA, challenging assays in perennials consistently reflect the natural context of viral genome targeting.
Keywords: Prunus domestica; RNAi; plum pox virus stability; recovery; resistance; silencing.