Same gene protects from 1 disease, opens door to another

Aug 28, 2007

Botanists at Oregon State University have discovered that a single plant gene can cause resistance to one disease at the same time it produces susceptibility to a different disease – the first time this unusual phenomenon has ever been observed in plants.

The finding, published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may help scientists better understand the pathways that genetic disease resistance can take. Plant diseases are a multi-billion dollar problem in agriculture, and scientists for decades have been trying to develop new varieties of plants with resistance to one disease or another.

The research also explains why an epidemic of “Victoria blight,” a fungal disease, occurred in the United States in the 1940s. The Pc-2 gene in a widely-planted, imported variety of oats provided good resistance to oat rust, which is a costly crop disease – but the same gene also caused susceptibility to Victoria blight, and its use had to be discontinued as a result.

“The blight fungus makes a toxin that causes disease in susceptible plants – that is, only plants that carry this gene,” said Jennifer Lorang, an OSU research associate. “But it also turned out that the same gene can provide disease protection. This is very unusual, and should provide insight into genetic influences on disease resistance and susceptibility.”

Most work that has been done on plant diseases is focused on disease resistance, the researchers said, and less has been done on the genetic basis for disease susceptibility.

Among other things, the study suggests that plants bred for resistance to one disease may inadvertently be changed in ways that make them susceptible to a different disease. It also indicates that the physiological basis for disease resistance and susceptibility may have some similarities.

The actual plant used to identify these genetic pathways was Arabidopsis, a small plant in the mustard family, which is frequently used for genetic research. The scientists put the Pc-2-like gene in Arabidopsis, which has a similar function in oats, and were able to determine that it causes disease susceptibility, although it looks like a resistance gene.

Source: Oregon State University

Explore further: Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Engineered salmon may be a tough sell

Apr 03, 2014

The Obama administration has stalled for more than four years on deciding whether to approve a fast-growing salmon that would be the first genetically modified animal approved for human consumption.

First peanut genome sequenced

Apr 02, 2014

The International Peanut Genome Initiative—a group of multinational crop geneticists who have been working in tandem for the last several years—has successfully sequenced the peanut's genome.

Recommended for you

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

15 hours ago

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

18 hours ago

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Researchers develop new model of cellular movement

(Phys.org) —Cell movement plays an important role in a host of biological functions from embryonic development to repairing wounded tissue. It also enables cancer cells to break free from their sites of ...

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.