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Crop Biotech Update

Rust Fungi Genes Provide Insights in Developing a Rust-Resistant Cereal Crops

August 5, 2015

Rust fungi are caused by Puccinia sp. and considered to be one of the most destructive cereal crop pathogen. Researchers from Washington State University, Carleton College, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, studied Puccinia genes in detail. This is done by using a host induced gene silencing (HIGS) to test the ability of Puccinia genes to interfere with the full development of Puccinia sp.

Results of their study reveal that only 10 out of 86 genes with transcripts enriched in haustoria interfered P. graminis f.sp. tritici development when their transcripts were reduced in HIGS assays. These 10 genes were found to be involved in several biological processes in fungi. Furthermore, 3 out of the 10 genes were also found to suppress the development of the two other rust fungus, P. striformis and P. triticina.

These findings indicate the possibility of engineering a rust resistant cereal crop to multiple rust pathogens using a single gene and can also be applied to other grain and forage crops.  

The study can be read at BMC Genetics.