By identifying which genes are turned on, Bogdanove believes the team can identify the genes that are making the plants resistant.
"We are looking at genes of successful plants," he said. "What genes are active and when and how much they are being turned on."
Bogdanove hopes that this effort will aid in breeding the resistance into cultivated varieties that are currently susceptible to the diseases.
Another aspect of the research is aimed at discovering how the bacteria change gene expression in susceptible rice plants.
"If we understand which genes are being manipulated by the pathogens in disease, we can look into different varieties and wild relatives of rice for variants of these genes that are immune to manipulation and bring these genes into cultivated varieties," said Bogdanove. "The idea is to reduce or eliminate susceptibility altogether."
Rice is the major food staple for more than half the world's population. In the United States, rice is planted on almost 3 million acres with yields of around 7,000 pounds per acre in 2007, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
American producers grow 95 percent of the rice eaten in this country and the United States is a major exporter as well, according to Bogdanove.
In addition to the benefits to rice, the research should be helpful in understanding and controlling diseases in other cereal crops.
"Rice is a model plant for cereal biology," said Bogdanove.
|Contact: Adam Bogdanove|
Iowa State University