Biotech Updates

Oilseed Rape Resistant to Sclerotinia

May 2, 2008

Sclerotinia is a plant pathogenic fungus that causes important diseases such as white mold, stem and leaf rot and stalk wilt, in more than 400 plant species. In oilseed rape, it causes rots of leaves and pods resulting to tremendous yield loss. No highly resistant cultivars of oilseed rape have been reported to date, and few genetic sources of resistance to the pathogen are available to breeders.

Researchers from the Oil Crops Research Institute in China developed transgenic oilseed rape lines resistant to Sclerotinia. They introduced a gene, from wheat, which encodes the enzyme oxalate oxidase (OXO). OXO can neutralize oxalic acid, the key to Sclerotinia’s pathogenicity. The ‘detoxification’ reaction also produces hydrogen peroxide, a key elicitor of plant defense. The GM lines showed up to 91 percent disease reduction compared to its non-transgenic counterparts.

The article published by the journal Planta is available at