Crop Biotech Update

Gene Editing in Rice Leads to Broad-spectrum Resistance to Bacterial Diseases

November 29, 2023

Bacterial blight (BB) and bacterial leaf streak (BLS) are two of the most devastating diseases of rice worldwide. These diseases can cause significant yield losses and make it difficult for farmers to grow rice. Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and partners reported a strategy to protect rice from BB and BLS. Their findings are published in the Plant Biotechnology Journal.

The strategy involves inserting multiple effector binding elements (EBEs) into the promoter of a rice gene called xa23. EBEs are small pieces of DNA that bind to proteins called transcription activator-like effectors (TALEs). TALEs are produced by the bacteria that cause BB and BLS, and they are used by the bacteria to infect rice plants. By inserting multiple EBEs into the promoter, the scientists made rice plants resistant to a wide range of BB and BLS strains. The EBEs bind to TALEs from different strains of the bacteria, which triggers a defense response in the rice plant that prevents the bacteria from infecting the plant.

Field tests confirmed rice plants engineered with the EBEs were resistant to BB and BLS.

Read more in Plant Biotechnology Journal.

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