Examining rice genes for rice blast resistance

Oct 17, 2011

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have characterized the molecular mechanism behind some plants' ability to resist rice blast, a fungal disease that affects cereal grain crops such as rice, wheat, rye and barley and can cause yield losses of up to 30 percent. The fungus has been found in 85 countries worldwide, including the United States.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant pathologist Yulin Jia at the agency's Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuttgart, Ark., determined how those molecular mechanisms work and how resistance genes evolved. Jia studies the molecular relationship between rice and the fungi responsible for the diseases rice blast and sheath blight.

ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security.

Jia and his colleagues have also mapped two major blast-resistance genes from a rice cultivar from China. Their findings have been reported in the journals Euphytica, Plant Science, and Phytopathology.

A few years ago, Jia visited the Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, the Philippines, and was able to bring back more than 100 rice lines that contained different genes that confer resistance to the blast fungus. Similarly, IRRI scientists have imported rice germplasm from the ARS collection for their research. Some of this germplasm has shown some resistance to sheath blight strains that occur in their environment, according to Jia.

Genes are constantly changing in order to survive, and over the years the genes in rice and fungi have co-evolved. Resistance is relative to the specific pathogens. For instance, not all humans are immune to flu viruses, because new strains of flu emerge constantly. That is also true for strains of fungi and the rice varieties they infect. So as time goes by, the old may not work against the new fungal strains.

Explore further: Can tapioca replace corn as the main source for starch sweeteners?

More information: Read more about this in the October 2011 issue of Agricultural Research magazine. www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/oct11/food1011.htm

Provided by United States Department of Agriculture

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New genetic tool helps improve rice

Aug 19, 2010

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have developed a new tool for improving the expression of desirable genes in rice in parts of the plant where the results will do the most good.

Transplanted corn gene protects rice

Oct 18, 2005

Kansas State University scientists say they've demonstrated resistance to bacterial streak disease in maize can be transferred to rice.

Genomics Research Focuses on Rice Variety Improvement

Jul 01, 2008

Crop varieties can be improved through the study of genomics without creating genetically transformed varieties. That is the mission of a multistate research project led by the University of Arkansas System’s Division of ...

Recommended for you

Project launched to study evolutionary history of fungi

9 hours ago

The University of California, Riverside is one of 11 collaborating institutions that have been funded a total of $2.5 million by the National Science Foundation for a project focused on studying zygomycetes – ancient li ...

Different watering regimes boost crop yields

12 hours ago

Watering tomato plants less frequently could improve yields in saline conditions, according to a study of the impact of water and soil salinity on vegetable crops.

Woolly mammoth genome sequencer at UWA

13 hours ago

How can a giant woolly mammoth which lived at least 200,000 years ago help to save the Tasmanian Devil from extinction? The answer lies in DNA, the carrier of genetic information.

User comments : 0