Resistant or fertile
Feronia and Nortia are formed by the helper cells of the embryo sac. They bring about the fusion of the gametes in the ovary. Feronia and MLO in the leaves enable mildew to penetrate into the plant. "This dual function indicates why evolution has not yet succeeded in blocking this point of access to mildew. It would clearly be very difficult to decouple these two functions. Therefore, the alternatives are: resistant and infertile, or vulnerable and fertile," says Ralph Panstruga from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research.
Feronia is a receptor that apparently directly influences Nortia. However, the scientists do not yet know how Feronia cooperates with Nortia and MLO. "Our goal is to breed mildew-resistant plants based on Feronia mutants that are also fertile," says Panstruga. This is a very ambitious aim, as evolution appears not to have produced any such mutants up to now. Feronia evidently plays such an important role in the ovary and the leaves that the plant simply cannot manage without it.
|Contact: Dr. Ralph Panstruga|