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Genome sequence could reveal 'Achilles' heels' of important wheat disease
Date:6/9/2011

ts. Plants often use the presence of the sugars and proteins released when a cell is broken down as cue for turning on their immune responses, so the researchers think that the unusually low numbers of genes producing enzymes for breaking down plant cells may be crucial to the fungus' stealth approach.

The team from Rothamsted have already started on work using the genome to look for potential weaknesses in the fungus' defences. Collaborating with researchers at Wageningen University in the Netherlands they have identified a protein in the fungus which is important in keeping it hidden. This research was published recently in Plant Physiology.

Dr Jason Rudd who worked on the project at Rothamsted Research said "We were able to use the information in the genome sequence almost immediately to look for a potential Achilles' heel. We singled out a protein which helps keep the fungus camouflaged and protects it from the plant's defences. When we generated a mutant strain of the fungus which didn't contain the gene for this protein, the infected wheat plants produced strong immune responses and didn't develop the characteristic leaf blotches. Our next step is to use these and similar findings to help farmers combat this disease out in the field in order to reduce wheat losses."

Professor Maurice Moloney, Director and Chief Executive of Rothamsted Research commented "Rothamsted Research is proud to be part of the team that has sequenced and analysed the M. graminicola genome. This fungal pathogen causes one of the most pernicious plant diseases and accounts for significant losses annually in wheat yields throughout the world. This work illustrates the power of sequencing the genomes of plant pathogens in identifying key targets for efficient plant protection."

Professor Douglas Kell, Chief Executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, said "Genome sequencing is an important tool in the fight to ensure global f
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Contact: Mike Davies
mike.davies@bbsrc.ac.uk
44-179-341-4694
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Source:Eurekalert

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