Author: Huijun Yan, Shaochuan Shi, Nan Ma, Xiaoqian Cao, Hao Zhang, Xianqin Qiu, Qigang Wang, Hongying Jian, Ningning Zhou, Zhao Zhang, and Kaixue Tang
Rose has emerged as a model ornamental plant for studies of flower development, senescence, and morphology, as well as the metabolism of floral fragrances and colors. Virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) has long been used in functional genomics studies of rose by vacuum infiltration of cuttings or seedlings with an Agrobacterium suspension carrying TRV-derived vectors. However, VIGS in rose flowers remains a challenge because of its low efficiency and long time to establish silencing. Here we present a novel and rapid VIGS method that can be used to analyze gene function in rose, called ‘graft-accelerated VIGS’, where axillary sprouts are cut from the rose plant and vacuum infiltrated with Agrobacterium. The inoculated scions are then grafted back onto the plants to flower and silencing phenotypes can be observed within 5 weeks, post-infiltration. Using this new method, we successfully silenced expression of the RhDFR1, RhAG, and RhNUDX1 in rose flowers, and affected their color, petal number, as well as fragrance, respectively. This grafting method will facilitate high-throughput functional analysis of genes in rose flowers. Importantly, it may also be applied to other woody species that are not currently amenable to VIGS by conventional leaf or plantlet/seedling infiltration methods.