Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists root out the secret life of a plant disease.

30.09.2004


Scientists from the Sainsbury Laboratory (SL), Norwich report in the journal Nature that important plant diseases previously thought only to infect plants through their leaves may also enter through the plant’s roots. They report that the rice leaf blast fungus is able to use very different routes and means of attacking the rice plant by switching between two completely different programmes of developmental events; one programme is characteristic of leaf-infecting fungi and the other characteristic of root-infecting fungi. If this previously unsuspected ability is widespread amongst diseases of important crops it will have implications for our current strategies for controlling diseases by using chemical sprays and plant breeding, and for our understanding of how changing agriculture practices may alter disease prevalence.

“This is a fascinating discovery” says Dr Anne Osbourn (leader of the research team at the SL). “Plant diseases are usually highly-specialised to be able to infect a particular plant tissue. We have demonstrated that a fungus that we normally associate with the rice leaf and that has a sophisticated system for entering and infecting the leaf tissue, can switch on a completely different infection system to enable it to penetrate the rice plant’s root. When it comes to invading its host plant, the rice leaf blast fungus is keeping its options open”.

Rice is the staple food for half of the world’s population. Rice blast is one of the most damaging diseases of cultivated rice and so is a constant threat the world’s food supply. Strategies to control the disease depend on the use of varieties that are resistant to disease attack and the application of fungicides, but neither of these methods is particularly effective. The development of durable, environmentally friendly strategies for the control of rice blast disease will depend on a better understanding of how the disease organism infects its host.



In laboratory experiments where rice seedlings were infected with the blast fungus through their roots, typical blast disease symptoms appeared on the aerial parts of the plant, indicating that the fungus had spread systemically throughout the plant. The appearance of normal disease symptoms in a significant number of root infected plants suggests that this might be an important infection route in the field. Rice blast has several close relatives that enter their cereal host plants by root-infection and cause major diseases, such as take-all, and so the possibility that root-infection is a significant aspect of the rice blast life cycle should be taken seriously. Although the importance, in the field, of rice blast’s ability to switch between infection routes is unknown, the existence of these alternative strategies should be considered when changing agronomic practices.

Recently, other important pathogens that were thought to infect the aerial parts of their hosts have been reported to be able to infect through the roots as well. If further research shows that it is common for pathogens to have “secret lives” that enable them to switch infection routes, this will be an important but previously unsuspected factor to consider when changing agricultural practices and breeding for plant disease resistance. Any change that makes it more difficult for a pathogen to infect a crop through its normal infection route could select for a change in the pathogen’s behaviour that exploits alternative infection routes. Such a shift could alter the prevalence and ease of controlling current diseases and highlights the need to fully understand plant disease in order to develop new and effective strategies for disease control.

Ray Mathias | alfa
Further information:
http://www.jic.bbsrc.ac.uk

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Energy crop production on conservation lands may not boost greenhouse gases
13.03.2017 | Penn State

nachricht How nature creates forest diversity
07.03.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

When Air is in Short Supply - Shedding light on plant stress reactions when oxygen runs short

23.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics

23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Sea ice extent sinks to record lows at both poles

23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>