Crop Biotech Update

Plant Defensin from Legume Confers Resistance to Leaf Rust in Wheat

September 21, 2016

Leaf rust caused by fungus Puccinia triticina (Pt) is known as an economically important disease of wheat globally, causing up to 50 percent yield loss. For the past years, producers used resistant wheat cultivars to control the disease, but genetic resistance lasts only for a short time and breaks down with the arrival of new virulent Pt strains. Thus, Jagdeep Kaur of Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and colleagues developed a transgenic wheat with durable resistance to leaf rust. 

The scientists transformed two wheat genotypes with a gene coding for antifungal plant defensin (MtDEF4.2) from legume Medicago truncatula. Transgenic lines expressing MtDEF4.2 were characterized and found that the transformation did not affect the root colonization of a beneficial arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus Rhizophagus irregularis.

The results of the study confirmed that expression of MtDEF4.2 in wheat can combat leaf rust without having negative effects on its symbiotic relationship with beneficial mycorrhizal fungus. 

Read the research article in Transgenic Research.