Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, the causal agent of Sclerotinia stem rot, is a devastating necrotrophic pathogen which causes severe yield losses to oilseed production worldwide. Most of efforts at the genetic mitigation of the disease have not been successful. Present investigation was conducted to functionally characterize the effect of down-regulating Ssoah1 during host infection and explore the possibility of boosting host resistance by silencing this gene. We utilized host-induced gene silencing (HIGS) to silence Ssoah1 gene in the S. sclerotiorum fungus. A HIGS based vector was constructed and transformed into Arabidopsis thaliana. The pathogenicity assays in the transgenic A. thaliana lines revealed three T transformants with significantly higher resistance to S. sclerotiorum in comparison to untransformed controls. There was a concomitant reduction in expression of Ssoah1 and accumulation of oxalic acid in the necrotic regions of transgenic lines as compared to the non-transgenic controls. Specific Ssoah1-siRNA was highly expressed in HIGS Ssoah1 transgenic lines, as compared with WT and EV plants. The outcomes of oxalic acid estimation revealed that silencing of Ssoah1 results in decreased OA accumulation. The recovered mycelium plugs from HIGS Ssoah1 transgenic lines showed decreased Ssoah1 expression and pathogenesis. These results provide the possibility of using HIGS of Ssoah1 for engineering resistance against S. sclerotiorum.
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