Building on plant virus research started more than 20 years ago, a biologist at Washington University in St. Louis and his colleague at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis have discovered a technology that reduces infection by the virus that causes Rice Tungro Disease, a serious limiting factor for rice production in Asia.
Roger N. Beachy, Ph.D., WUSTL professor of biology in Arts & Sciences and president of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and Danforth Center research scientist Shunhong Dai, Ph.D., demonstrated that transgenic rice plants that overexpress either of two rice proteins are tolerant to infection caused by the rice tungro bacilliform virus (RTVB), which is largely responsible for the symptoms associated with Rice Tungro disease.
The two proteins, RF2a and RF2b, were discovered in Beachy's lab several years ago and are transcription factors known to be important for plant development; the new data suggest that they may be involved in regulating defense mechanisms that protect against virus infection. The discovery, published in the December 22, 2008, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may open new avenues in the search for disease resistance genes and pathways in plants and other organisms.
Plant viral diseases cause serious economic losses in agriculture, second only to those caused by fungal diseases. Rice Tungro disease is prevalent primarily in south and southeast Asia and accounts for nearly $1.5 billion annual loss in rice production worldwide. Preventing the occurrence and spread of this virus could result in increased yields ranging from five to 10 percent annually in affected areas.
"Rice Tungro disease is complex and requires interactions between two different viruses, an insect vector and the host. It has taken a great deal of research effort through the years to gain sufficient information and knowledge about the virus and the host to come to the point of developing a type of resistance to the disease. Hopefully, the results of these studies will lead to improved yields of rice in areas of the world most affected by the disease," said Beachy.
Beachy and Dai's research laboratory and greenhouse findings conducted in St. Louis were confirmed in a greenhouse trial conducted in partnership with the Philippine Rice Research Institute. This breakthrough provides a clearer understanding of how these two specific transcription factors 'turn on' specific genes in rice plants as well as which proteins help the virus complete the cycle of infection. Understanding the development of disease symptoms is critical for engineering plants that can resist the biological effects of viral pathogen infection.
Virus infections alter gene expression and physiological status in the host, resulting in disease symptoms. Although viruses are relatively simple genetically speaking, little is known about the mechanisms that underlie the development of disease symptoms caused by viral pathogens.
A major challenge for the treatment or prevention of viral infections is the identification of specific factors in host organisms that contribute to disease susceptibility and symptoms. Some of these factors include genetic and biochemical pathways and gene expression that influence multiple aspects of host biology.
In this case of Rice Tungro disease, viral infection is commonly transmitted by the green leafhopper. Combining genes that overexpress RF2a and RF2b with genes that provide resistance to the insect vector could generate new rice varieties with significantly improved resistance to Rice Tungro disease in vulnerable regions in the world.
Karla R. Goldstein | EurekAlert!
New research recovers nutrients from seafood process water
31.10.2018 | Chalmers University of Technology
Plant Hormone Makes Space Farming a Possibility
17.10.2018 | Universität Zürich
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly
The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
14.11.2018 | Materials Sciences
14.11.2018 | Health and Medicine
14.11.2018 | Life Sciences