Navigation Links
Genetic defenders protect crops from fungal disease

Like waves of soldiers guarding a castle gate, multiple genetic defenders cooperate to protect plant cells against powdery mildew disease, according to a new study. Powdery mildew is a common fungal infection in plants that attacks more than 9,000 species, including many crops such as barley and wheat, and horticultural plants such as roses and cucumbers. The researchers, including Shauna Somerville and Mónica Stein of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Plant Biology, are the first to document how these defense genes team up in plants. The discovery could help combat fungal parasites that devastate crops and cost growers billions of dollars in pesticides every year.

The study, published in the November 18 issue of the journal Science, describes powdery mildew infection in the mustard relative Arabidopsis thaliana. Each species of mildew is host-specific, meaning it can infect some plant species, but not others. By disabling protective genes in Arabidopsis, the researchers were able to infect the plants with species of powdery mildew that normally attack peas or barley, revealing much about how plants use genes to fight infection.

"Most plants are resistant to the majority of pathogens they encounter, but the basis for this resistance was unknown," Somerville said. "Identifying these genes has provided us with the first insight into how plants defend against multiple pathogens."

Once a powdery mildew infection takes hold, it covers the plant with fuzzy splotches, while sapping precious nutrients. At the cellular level, the fungal spores invade healthy plant cells and form root-like feeding structures called haustoria. The plant cell wall is the primary barrier to this invasion and one of the defense genes described in the current study, called PEN2, prevents the fungus from penetrating cell walls in the first place.

If this first line of defense breaks down, as it does in about 5 to 25 percent of normal Arabidopsis plants (depend ing on the mildew species), a second set of genes jumps into the fray. These genes, called EDS1, PAD4, and SAG101, work together in a complex inside the cell, and can signal infected cells to die. By sacrificing these fallen cells, the defense genes can spare healthy ones from infection.

Somerville, Stein, and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding in Köln disabled the protective genes in Arabidopsis by introducing mutations, one at a time and in various combinations. They infected these mutants with one of two species of powdery mildew: Blumeria graminis hordei, a species that attacks barley, and Erysiphe pisi, one that thrives on the leaves and pods of pea plants.

"Disabling just three genes allowed the pea powdery mildew to reproduce as well on Arabidopsis as it does on its normal host," Somerville remarked. "Thus, the resistance barriers limiting the growth of inappropriate pathogens are much less complex than expected, relying on just a limited number of genes."

The EDS1, PAD4, and SAG101 gene complex's ability to signal cell death is relatively well known to scientists. However, very little is known about how PEN2 behaves in the cell. The current study demonstrates that the PEN2 protein is a catabolic enzyme--a protein that breaks down other molecules--though its specific target remains unknown.

The study expands on the researchers' previous work with a gene called PEN1. As its name suggests, PEN1 and PEN2 seem to share a common purpose. However, they seem to act via different mechanisms, and PEN2 protects against a wider range of fungal pathogens. For example, Arabidopsis plants with a disabled PEN2 gene are also more susceptible to Phytopthora infestans, the fungus responsible for the notorious Irish Potato Famine of the mid-19th century.

"The resistance mechanisms operating at the cell wall seem to be surprisingly simple," Somerville said. "This suggests it might be possible to reverse engineer cr ops like wheat with Arabidopsis PEN genes to help control powdery mildew and other destructive diseases, thus minimizing the need for pesticides."


'"/>

Source:Carnegie Institution


Related biology news :

1. Novel Asthma Study Shows Multiple Genetic Input Required; Single-gene Solution Shot Down
2. Genetically modified natural killer immune cells attack, kill leukemia cells
3. Ants Genetic Engineering Leads To Species Interdependency
4. Genetic Variation Visualization - From EMBL
5. Genetically modified rice in China benefits farmers health, study finds
6. Infants With Rare Genetic Disease Saved by Cord Blood Stem Cells
7. Genetically Modified Natural Killer Immune Cells Attack, Kill Leukemia Cells
8. Genetic defects give the immune system the green light to attack the pancreas
9. Maine Researchers Find Exceptions to Old Rules of Genetic Inheritance
10. Genetic therapy reverses nervous system damage in animal model of inherited human disease
11. Infants with Rare Genetic Disease Saved By Cord Blood Stem Cells
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:11/22/2016)... 2016   MedNet Solutions , an innovative SaaS-based ... clinical research, is pleased to announce that the company ... Life Sciences Awards as "Most Outstanding in eClinical ... year of recognition and growth for MedNet, which has ... iMedNet ™ , MedNet,s flagship ...
(Date:11/17/2016)... Calif. , Nov. 17, 2016  AIC announces that it has just released ... in organizations that require high-performance scale-out plus high speed data transfer storage solutions. ... ... ... Setting up a high ...
(Date:11/14/2016)... Technology, Inc. ("xG" or the "Company") (Nasdaq: XGTI, XGTIW), ... in challenging operating environments, announced its results for the ... a conference call to discuss these results on November ... Key Recent Accomplishments ... acquire Vislink Communication Systems. The purchase is expected to ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/2/2016)... The immunohistochemistry (IHC) market is projected ... of 7.3% during the forecast period of 2016 to 2021 dominated ... accounted for the largest share of immunohistochemistry (IHC) market, by end ... , , ... market spread across 225 pages, profiling 10 companies and supported with ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... 30, 2016 The global Pyrogen ... hold a dominant share in the overall market. The ... Inc., and Merck KGaA, held a lion,s share of ... Research observes that these companies are expected to retain ... that are do not require rabbit pyrogen testing along ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... 30, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -  Equicare Health Inc ., the ... recognized as one of the top 100 companies in ... listing that distinguishes the top digital health companies across ... step forward this year continually upgrading our product with ... base and team," says Len Grenier , CEO ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... 2016 Part of 5m$ Investment in ... ... Aptuit, LLC today announced that it had successfully completed the ... compounds have increased the Screening Collection to over 400,000. The ... capabilities of the company. This expansion, complemented by new robotics ...
Breaking Biology Technology: