Biotech Updates

Genes to Fight Powdery Mildew in Barley Identified

September 28, 2016

An international team of researchers has identified the genes that could help fight off powdery mildew in barley. The research, led by researchers from University of Adelaide in Australia and the Leibniz-Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) in Germany found the two genes, HvGsl6 and HvCslD2 to be associated with the accumulation of callose and cellulose, respectively. The two genes play an important role in blocking powdery mildew fungus from penetrating the plant cell wall.

The researchers found that by silencing the genes, there was lower accumulation of callose and cellulose in the plant cell walls, and higher susceptibility of barley plants to the fungus. However, overexpressing HvCslD2 enhanced barley's resistance to the fungus. The earliest observed defense response is the formation of cell-wall thickenings called papillae at the site of fungal infection.

"Our results show that these novel genes are interesting targets for improving cell-wall penetration resistance in barley and maybe other cereals against fungal intruders," says Dr. Patrick Schweizer, Head of the Pathogen-Stress Genomics Laboratory at IPK.

For more details, read the news release at The University of Adelaide website.