Crop Biotech Update

Texas AgriLife Scientists Study 'War of Plants'

May 4, 2016

Two Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists are studying 'war of the plants', a virtual tug-of-war that occurs when a plant is being attacked by a pathogen.

Dr. Kranthi Mandadi, plant genomics and molecular biologist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco and Dr. Karen-Beth Scholthof, a plant virologist at Texas A&M University in College Station, are specifically working to improve the defenses of grasses that produce biofuel, such as switchgrass, sugarcane and energy cane, as well as those that produce food, including corn and sorghum.

When a pathogen invades a plant, the plant begins to alter levels of so-called reactive oxygen species, or free radicals, much as the human body does, to defend itself, and that's when the tug-of-war begins. The pathogen will try to take down the plant's defense by fighting off the free radicals, while the plant will fight off the pathogen by ramping up the free radicals. Mandadi and Scholthof are trying to identify the molecular changes that occur during these interactions, where the result will be either disease or defense.

For more details, read the news release at AgriLife Today.