RNAi‐mediated resistance to Cassava brown streak Uganda virus in transgenic cassava
Cassava brown streak disease (CBSD), caused by Cassava brown streak Uganda virus(CBSUV) and Cassava brown streak virus (CBSV), is of new epidemic importance to cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) production in East Africa, and an emerging threat to the crop in Central and West Africa. This study demonstrates that at least one of these two ipomoviruses, CBSUV, can be efficiently controlled using RNA interference (RNAi) technology in cassava. An RNAi construct targeting the near full‐length coat protein (FL‐CP) of CBSUV was expressed constitutively as a hairpin construct in cassava. Transgenic cassava lines expressing small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) against this sequence showed 100% resistance to CBSUV across replicated graft inoculation experiments. Reverse transcriptase‐polymerase chain reaction (RT‐PCR) analysis showed the presence of CBSUV in leaves and some tuberous roots from challenged controls, but not in the same tissues from transgenic plants. This is the first demonstration of RNAi‐mediated resistance to the ipomovirus CBSUV in cassava.