Biotech Updates

Transgenic Maize Express Totivirus Antifungal Protein for Corn Smut Resistance

March 4, 2011

Corn smut fungus (Ustilago maydis) is one of the important agricultural pathogens that cause significant crop yield losses. Most traditional breeding methods have failed to control corn smut because natural resistance to U. maydis is organ-specific and involves multiple maize genes.

Donald Danforth Plant Science Center scientist Aron Allen and colleagues used transgenic approach to express Totivirus antifungal protein (KP4) in maize for corn smut resistance. Results of their study showed that the transgenic plants expressed high levels of KP4 without any negative effect on plant development. Transgenic plants planted in the experimental greenhouse exhibited high resistance to U. maydis in the stem and ear tissues. The results imply that genetic engineering of this family of antifungal proteins can give high level of organ independent fungal resistance.

Read the research paper published by the Plant Biotechnology Journal at