Nav: Home

Breakthrough in fight against plant diseases

March 20, 2019

A global research team including scientists from La Trobe University have identified specific locations within plants' chromosomes capable of transferring immunity to their offspring.

The findings could lead to new ways of preventing disease in crops - of great potential benefit to farmers.

Led by the University of Sheffield (UK), the research team identified, for the first time, specific locations (loci) within a plant's chromosomes that impart disease resistance to their offspring by undergoing a reversible biochemical modification known as DNA methylation, in response of pathogen attack.

Published in the journal eLife, the research identifies four DNA loci that control disease resistance against a common plant pathogen called downy mildew. Importantly, this resistance was not associated with any negative effects on growth or resistance against other environmental stresses.

La Trobe University Research Fellow Dr Ritushree Jain said that when plants are repetitively attacked by pathogens, they develop a 'memory' (known as priming in plants) of this encounter which enables them to fight efficiently when attacked again.

"One of the mechanisms for transferring this 'memory' to their next generation via seeds is DNA methylation," Dr Jain said.

"It is an epigenetic phenomenon - meaning there is no change in the DNA sequence."

Dr Jain explained the potential benefit to farmers these findings offer.

"Not only could this significant discovery lead to new ways of preventing disease in important crops, but it could also help reduce our reliance on pesticides," Dr Jain said.

Lead researcher Professor Jurriaan Ton from the University of Sheffield's P3 Plant Production and Protection Centre said findings from the study pave the way for further research into how epigenetics can help to improve disease resistance in food crops.

"We now hope to use this study to carry out further research to understand how these epigenetic loci control so many different defence genes," Professor Ton said.

"We are also keen to participate in more translational studies, in order to find out whether epigenetics can be used to prime disease resistance in crops that are vital to food supplies around the world."

Led by the University of Sheffield in the UK, the research was conducted in collaboration with La Trobe University, PSL University (Paris) and the Technical University of Munich (Germany).

The research paper, Identification and characterisation of hypomethylated DNA loci controlling quantitative resistance in Arabidopsis, was published in eLife.
-end-
Media Contact: Claire Bowers - c.bowers@latrobe.edu.au - 9479 2315 / 0437 279 903

La Trobe University

Related Chromosomes Articles:

Scientists detail how chromosomes reorganize after cell division
Researchers have discovered key mechanisms and structural details of a fundamental biological process--how a cell nucleus and its chromosomal material reorganizes itself after cell division.
X marks the spot: recombination in structurally distinct chromosomes
A recent study from the laboratory of Stowers Investigator Scott Hawley, PhD, has revealed more details about how the synaptonemal complex performs its job, including some surprising subtleties in function.
How chromosomes change their shape during cell differentiation
Scientists from the RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research have provided an explanation of how chromosomes undergo structural changes during cell differentiation.
Key similarities discovered between human and archaea chromosomes
A study led by Indiana University is the first to reveal key similarities between chromosomes in humans and archaea.
Science snapshots: Chromosomes, crystals, and drones
From Berkeley Lab: exploring human origins in the uncharted territory of our chromosomes; scientists grow spiraling new material; drones will fly for days with this new technology
Human artificial chromosomes bypass centromere roadblocks
Human artificial chromosomes (HACs) could be useful tools for both understanding how mammalian chromosomes function and creating synthetic biological systems, but for the last 20 years, they have been limited by an inefficient artificial centromere.
Does rearranging chromosomes affect their function?
Molecular biologists long thought that domains in the genome's 3D organization control how genes are expressed.
Super-resolution microscopy illuminates associations between chromosomes
Thanks to super-resolution microscopy, scientists have now been able to unambiguously identify physical associations between human chromosomes.
B chromosome first -- mechanisms behind the drive of B chromosomes uncovered
B chromosomes are supernumerary chromosomes, which often are preferentially inherited and showcase an increased transmission rate.
Dark centers of chromosomes reveal ancient DNA
Geneticists exploring the dark heart of the human genome have discovered big chunks of Neanderthal and other ancient DNA.
More Chromosomes News and Chromosomes Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

In & Out Of Love
We think of love as a mysterious, unknowable force. Something that happens to us. But what if we could control it? This hour, TED speakers on whether we can decide to fall in — and out of — love. Guests include writer Mandy Len Catron, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, musician Dessa, One Love CEO Katie Hood, and psychologist Guy Winch.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#543 Give a Nerd a Gift
Yup, you guessed it... it's Science for the People's annual holiday episode that helps you figure out what sciency books and gifts to get that special nerd on your list. Or maybe you're looking to build up your reading list for the holiday break and a geeky Christmas sweater to wear to an upcoming party. Returning are pop-science power-readers John Dupuis and Joanne Manaster to dish on the best science books they read this past year. And Rachelle Saunders and Bethany Brookshire squee in delight over some truly delightful science-themed non-book objects for those whose bookshelves are already full. Since...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab