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Crop Biotech Update

Rice Blast Research Reveals How Fungus Invades Plants

June 26, 2013

An international team of researchers led by Kansas University Professor Barbara Valent has found out how the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae invades plant tissues. The findings is a step toward controlling the disease, estimated to destroy rice enough to feed 60 million people annually. The team found that the fungus has evolved a novel secretion system for effector proteins - proteins secreted by microorganisms -  that go inside the plant cell. The researchers investigated how the fungus secretes effectors at the time they invade rice tissues by using effectors linked to fluorescent proteins from jellyfish and corals. As the fluorescent effectors grew inside the rice cells, the researchers noticed that normal treatments blocking protein secretion did not stop the effectors growth.

Professor Valent said, "Identifying how these processes function will help us understand how disease micro-organisms evolve and prove pivotal in controlling blast diseases." Her team worked with the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom and the Iwate Biotechnology Research Center in Japan.

For more information, read the news release at: http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/news/story/rice_blast061813.aspx. The results of their study have been published in the journal Nature Communications with this link: http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2013/130618/ncomms2996/full/ncomms2996.html.