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Researchers examine bacterial rice diseases, search for genetic solutions
Date:4/1/2009

AMES, Iowa -- As a major food source for much of the world, rice is one of the most important plants on earth.

Keeping it safe from disease has become, in part, the task of a group of three researchers from Iowa State University and one from Kansas State University.

The researchers are looking at two bacterial diseases of rice. The most costly is bacterial blight of rice, which is caused by a bacterium called Xanthomonas oryzae pathovar oryzae, and can diminish yield by up to 50 percent.

"This is the most important bacterial disease in rice, and in some areas, it is the most important rice disease of any kind," said Adam Bogdanove, an associate professor of plant pathology who is part of the ISU research team.

The team is also studying bacterial leaf streak of rice caused by the closely related bacterium Xanthomonas oryzae pathovar oryzicola. Bacterial leaf streak is usually not as damaging as bacterial blight, but it is increasing in importance in many areas of the world, particularly Southeast Asia.

These bacteria damage rice by entering the plant and taking control of certain rice cell processes, eventually killing the rice cells. Pathovar oryzae does this in the vascular system of the plant, which typically allows the bacterium to spread faster and cause more damage than is its cousin, oryzicola, which is limited to growth in the tissue between the veins.

Some types of rice are naturally resistant to the Xanthomonas bacteria. Bogdanove and other researchers -- Bing Yang, Iowa State assistant professor of genetics development and cell biology; Dan Nettleton, Iowa State professor of statistics; and Frank White, principal investigator and professor of plant pathology at Kansas State University, Manhattan -- are researching why some types of rice are naturally resistant to the bacteria.

In rice varieties that are resistant to the diseases, the team is exposing the plants to the
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Contact: Adam Bogdanove
ajbog@iastate.edu
51-529-443-421
Iowa State University
Source:Eurekalert

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