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    The wheat SnRK1α family and its contribution to Fusarium toxin tolerance
    Deoxynivalenol (DON) is a mycotoxin produced by phytopathogenic Fusarium fungi in cereal grain and plays a role as a disease virulence factor. TaFROG (Triticum aestivum Fusarium Resistance Orphan Gene) enhances wheat resistance to DON and it interacts with a sucrose non-fermenting-1 (SNF1)-related protein kinase 1 catalytic subunit α (SnRK1α). This protein kinase family is central integrator of stress and energy signalling, regulating plant metabolism and growth. Little is known regarding the role of SnRK1α in the biotic stress response, especially in wheat. In this study, 15 wheat (Triticum aestivum) SnRK1α genes (TaSnRK1αs) belonging to four homoeologous groups were identified in the wheat genome. TaSnRK1αs are expressed ubiquitously in all organs and developmental stages apart from two members predominantly detected in grain. While DON treatment had either no effect or downregulated the transcription of TaSnRK1αs, it increased both the kinase activity associated with SnRK1α and the level of active (phosphorylated) SnRK1α. Down-regulation of two TaSnRK1αs homoeolog groups using virus induced gene silencing (VIGS) increased the DON-induced damage of wheat spikelets. Thus, we demonstrate that TaSnRK1αs contribute positively to wheat tolerance of DON and conclude that this gene family may provide useful tools for the improvement of crop biotic stress resistance.
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