Biotech Updates

UNL Research Looking for Ways to Block Rice Blast

December 23, 2010

Rice blast caused by Magnaporthe oryzae is one of the major diseases of rice. Global efforts to understand the pathogen and to control its spread have been going on for decades. It can reduce rice yield by up to 30 percent per year and a related organism can affect other cereals such as wheat. Currently, rice blast is spreading havoc in Arkansas, USA, and a related species has been found in wheat in Brazil.

In a journal article of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln plant pathologist Richard Wilson and his colleagues discovered a genetic switch that regulates plant infection by signaling to the fungus that it is in a nutrition rich environment. This signal will trigger infection and establishment of the disease. These scientists have now renewed their efforts to control the switch and the related processes so that a targeted control of the disease can be developed.

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