Use of ex vitro composite plants to study the interaction of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L.) with the root parasitic angiosperm Striga gesnerioides

Plant Methods
Karolina E MellorMichael P Timko


Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L.) is an important grain and forage legume grown throughout sub-Saharan Africa primarily by subsistence farmers on poor, drought prone soils. Genetic improvement of the crop is being actively pursued and numerous functional genomics studies are underway aimed at characterizing gene controlling key agronomic characteristics for disease and pest resistances. Unfortunately, similar to other legumes, efficient plant transformation technology is a rate-limiting step in analysis of gene function in cowpea. Here we describe an optimized protocol for the rapid generation of transformed hairy roots on ex vitro composite plants of cowpea using Agrobacterium rhizogenes. We further demonstrate the applicability of cowpea composite plants to study gene expression involved in the resistance response of the plant roots to attack by the root parasitic weed, Striga gesnerioides. The utility of the new system and critical parameters of the method are described and discussed herein. Cowpea composite plants offer a rapid alternative to methods requiring stable transformation and whole plant regeneration for studying gene expression in resistance or susceptibility responses to parasitic weeds. Their use can likely be read...Continue Reading


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Methods Mentioned

gene knockdown

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