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Crop Biotech Update

Feronia Protein Protects Plants Against Bacterial Attacks

October 31, 2018

Scientists at Iowa State University (ISU) have identified a genetic pathway that influences both plant growth and disease resistance. The research group has focused on the protein Feronia, a receptor kinase protein found in plant cells.

When plants are attacked by bacterial pathogens, a substance called coronatine from these pathogens uses the jasmonic acid system inside the plant cells to suppress the plant's disease response, making the plant more susceptible to disease. The research shows that Feronia detects the pathogen's attempts to hijack the jasmonic acid system and diminish a protein called MYC2 to fight off the disease. As the bacterial pathogen tries to trick the plant, the Feronia protein sees through the ploy and counteracts the pathogen.

Yanhai Yin, ISU professor and chair of genetics, development and cell biology and corresponding author of the paper, said the positive association Feronia shares with growth and disease response means it has great potential to be targeted by plant breeders who want to develop crops that can withstand disease without sacrificing growth. Yin said growth and disease resistance are often thought of as competing factors that plant breeders must balance.

For more details, read the ISU news release.