Virus-induced gene silencing offers a functional genomics platform for studying plant cell wall formation

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Virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) is a powerful genetic tool for rapid assessment of plant gene functions in the post-genomic era. Here, we successfully implemented a Tobacco Rattle Virus (TRV)-based VIGS system to study functions of genes involved in either primary or secondary cell wall formation in Nicotiana benthamiana plants. A 3-week post-VIGS time frame is sufficient to observe phenotypic alterations in the anatomical structure of stems and chemical composition of the primary and secondary cell walls. We used cell wall glycan-directed monoclonal antibodies to demonstrate that alteration of cell wall polymer synthesis during the secondary growth phase of VIGS plants has profound effects on the extractability of components from woody stem cell walls. Therefore, TRV-based VIGS together with cell wall component profiling methods provide a high-throughput gene discovery platform for studying plant cell wall formation from a bioenergy perspective. © 2010 The Author.

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Molecular Plant