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SUMMARY

Efficient and sustainable control of plant viruses may be achieved using genetically resistant crop varieties, although resistance genes are not always available for each pathogen; in this regard, the identification of new genes that are able to confer broad-spectrum and durable resistance is highly desirable. Recently, the cloning and characterization of recessive resistance genes from different plant species has pointed towards eukaryotic translation initiation factors (eIF) of the 4E family as factors required for the multiplication of many different viruses. Thus, we hypothesized that eIF4E may control the susceptibility of melon (Cucumis melo L.) to a broad range of viruses. To test this hypothesis, Cm-eIF4E knockdown melon plants were generated by the transformation of explants with a construct that was designed to induce the silencing of this gene, and the plants from T2 generations were genetically and phenotypically characterized. In transformed plants, Cm-eIF4E was specifically silenced, as identified by the decreased accumulation of Cm-eIF4E mRNA and the appearance of small interfering RNAs derived from the transgene, whereas the Cm-eIF(iso)4E mRNA levels remained unaffected. We challenged these transgenic melon plants with eight agronomically important melon-infecting viruses, and identified that they were resistant to Cucumber vein yellowing virus (CVYV), Melon necrotic spot virus (MNSV), Moroccan watermelon mosaic virus (MWMV) and Zucchini yellow mosaic virus (ZYMV), indicating that Cm-eIF4E controls melon susceptibility to these four viruses. Therefore, Cm-eIF4E is an efficient target for the identification of new resistance alleles able to confer broad-spectrum virus resistance in melon.