Corn gene helps fight Multiple Leaf Diseases

Feb 02, 2012 By Sharon Durham
Corn gene helps fight Multiple Leaf Diseases
A specific gene in corn seems to confer resistance to three important leaf diseases—southern corn leaf blight, northern leaf blight, and gray leaf spot—all of which cause lesions on corn leaves worldwide. Credit: Regis Lefebure.

(PhysOrg.com) -- A specific gene in corn seems to confer resistance to three important leaf diseases, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their university colleagues.

This , published in 2011 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could potentially help plant breeders build traits into future corn plants.

The research team included Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant geneticists Peter Balint-Kurti, Jim Holland and Matt Krakowsky in the agency's Plant Science Research Unit in Raleigh, N.C., and scientists with the University of Delaware, Cornell University, and Kansas State University. ARS is the USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency.

Three diseases-southern corn blight, northern leaf blight, and gray leaf spot-all cause lesions on corn leaves worldwide. In the U.S. Midwest Corn Belt, northern leaf blight and gray leaf spot are significant problems.

The researchers examined 300 corn varieties from around the world to ensure a genetically diverse representation. No corn variety has complete to any of these diseases, but varieties differ in the severity of symptoms they exhibit.

The researchers set out to look for maize lines with resistance to the three diseases to determine which genes underlie disease resistance, according to Balint-Kurti. When they tested the lines for resistance, they found that if a variety was resistant to one disease, chances were favorable that it was also resistant to the other two.

The researchers applied a statistical analysis technique called "association mapping" to identify regions of the genome associated with variation in disease resistance. According to Balint-Kurti, the scientists knew there was a strong correlation between resistance of one disease and the other two. They postulated that some resistance genes conferred resistance to two or more different diseases, and they identified a gene that seemed to confer multiple disease resistance.

This gene, a GST (glutathione S-transferase), is part of a family of genes known for their roles in regulating oxidative stress and in detoxification. Both of these functions are consistent with a role in disease resistance.

Explore further: Lab breakthrough can lead to cheaper biofuels, improved crops, and new products from plants

More information: Read more about this research in the February 2012 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Provided by USDA Agricultural Research Service

3 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study targets disease resistance in corn

Jan 11, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- In a paper published online this week in Nature Genetics, North Carolina State University and U.S. Department of Agriculture crop scientists and plant pathologists sift through millions of gen ...

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.

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 ...

Recommended for you

Identifying the source of stem cells

2 hours ago

When most animals begin life, cells immediately begin accepting assignments to become a head, tail or a vital organ. However, mammals, including humans, are special. The cells of mammalian embryos get to ...

Contamination likely explains 'food genes in blood' claim

Oct 29, 2014

Laboratory contaminants likely explain the results of a recent study claiming that complete genes can pass from foods we eat into our blood, according to a University of Michigan molecular biologist who re-examined ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.