Biotech Updates

Tissue-specific Expression of AtNPR1 Gene in Rice Confers Sheath Blight Resistance

June 22, 2016

Rice sheath blight, caused by fungus Rhizoctonia solani, is a major disease of rice. NPR1 regulates systemic acquired resistance (SAR), conferring broad spectrum resistance to various plant pathogens. Previous reports have shown that expression of the Arabidopsis thaliana NPR1 (AtNPR1) in rice results in disease resistance but negatively impacts growth and agronomic traits.

Scientists from the University of Calcutta now report that green tissue-specific expression of AtNPR1 in rice confers resistance to sheath blight, with no negative effect on plant growth. Elevated levels of NPR1 activated the defense pathway in the transgenic plants by inducing expression of disease relevant genes such as PR1b, RC24, and PR10A. Enhanced sheath blight resistance of the transgenics was evaluated and showed no kind of negative phenotypic effect.

These results demonstrate that green tissue-specific expression of AtNPR1 is an effective strategy for controlling the sheath blight pathogen. This work in rice could also be used for other crop plants severely damaged by the pathogen.

For more information on this study, read the article in Plant Science.