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Crop Biotech Update

Wheat Disease Resistance Gene Lr34 Confers Fungal Disease Resistance in Maize

November 16, 2016

Fungal diseases of maize (Zea mays) cause significant damage by reducing yields and by increasing input costs. The most sustainable control of maize diseases is the use of resistant maize cultivars. The wheat gene Lr34 provides durable and partial field resistance against several fungal diseases of wheat (Triticum aestivum). An Lr34-like disease resistance has not been reported in other cereal species, including maize.

University of Zurich's Justine Sucher, together with her colleagues, transformed the Lr34 resistance gene into the maize hybrid Hi-II. Lr34-expressing maize plants showed increased resistance against the fungal diseases common rust and northern corn leaf blight. Furthermore, the Lr34-expressing maize plants developed a late leaf tip necrosis phenotype, without negative impact on plant growth and development.

The study revealed that Lr34 is effective against various fungal diseases that infect all major cereal crop species.

For more information on this study, read the full article in Plant Biotechnology Journal.