Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Thesis (UNI Access Only)


Fusarium--Prevention; Corn--Disease and pest resistance; Corn--Genetic engineering;


Plant pathogens reduce agricultural yield and quality on a global scale. Pesticide use can lead to increased pollution and adverse health outcomes. Genetic engineering can provide protection with low environmental impact, however, efforts to transgenically introduce resistance genes into susceptible plant lines have not always provided durable genetic resistance, and can lead to reduced yield, quality, and digestibility. Investigations into utilizing a plant’s innate RNA interference response to silence the pathogenicity genes of invading pathogens could provide a new approach to create durable genetic resistance and help prevent food insecurity with minimal environmental impact. Fusarium verticillioides is a pathogenic fungus that causes ear rot in corn and produces the mycotoxin fumonisin. Fumonisin production is also believed to increase the virulence of Fusarium verticillioides. In this study, we constructed a set of plasmids using the Foxtail mosaic virus silencing vector (pFoMV-V). These plasmids were designed to silence the fumonisin biosynthesis genes Fum1, Fum6, Fum7, and Fum10 and the fungal pathogenicity genes Fsr1, Mgv1, and Sge1, in Fusarium verticillioides grown on corn plants genetically modified with these plasmids. Initial qPCR analysis revealed a small decrease in expression of Fum1 (p-value: 0.0005), however this result was derived from data that does not meet the MIQE guidelines. In future studies, these plasmids can be used to determine whether induction of the host plant RNAi response against virulence genes leads to disease resistance that can improve agricultural yield and quality.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Biology

First Advisor

James Jurgenson, Chair, Thesis Committee

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (x, 99 pages)



File Format


Off-Campus Download