Same gene protects from 1 disease, opens door to another

August 27, 2007

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Botanists at Oregon State University have discovered that a single plant gene can cause resistance to one disease at the same time it produces susceptibility to a different disease - the first time this unusual phenomenon has ever been observed in plants.

The finding, published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may help scientists better understand the pathways that genetic disease resistance can take. Plant diseases are a multi-billion dollar problem in agriculture, and scientists for decades have been trying to develop new varieties of plants with resistance to one disease or another.

The research also explains why an epidemic of "Victoria blight," a fungal disease, occurred in the United States in the 1940s. The Pc-2 gene in a widely-planted, imported variety of oats provided good resistance to oat rust, which is a costly crop disease - but the same gene also caused susceptibility to Victoria blight, and its use had to be discontinued as a result.

"The blight fungus makes a toxin that causes disease in susceptible plants - that is, only plants that carry this gene," said Jennifer Lorang, an OSU research associate. "But it also turned out that the same gene can provide disease protection. This is very unusual, and should provide insight into genetic influences on disease resistance and susceptibility."

Most work that has been done on plant diseases is focused on disease resistance, the researchers said, and less has been done on the genetic basis for disease susceptibility.

Among other things, the study suggests that plants bred for resistance to one disease may inadvertently be changed in ways that make them susceptible to a different disease. It also indicates that the physiological basis for disease resistance and susceptibility may have some similarities.

The actual plant used to identify these genetic pathways was Arabidopsis, a small plant in the mustard family, which is frequently used for genetic research. The scientists put the Pc-2-like gene in Arabidopsis, which has a similar function in oats, and were able to determine that it causes disease susceptibility, although it looks like a resistance gene.
-end-
Co-authors on the study were Tom Wolpert, a professor of botany and plant pathology, and Teresa Sweat, a doctoral student. The research was supported by the National Research Initiative of the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

Oregon State University

Related Agriculture Articles from Brightsurf:

Post-pandemic brave new world of agriculture
Recent events have shown how vulnerable the meat processing industry is to COVID-19.

Agriculture - a climate villain? Maybe not!
The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims that agriculture is one of the main sources of greenhouse gases, and is thus by many observers considered as a climate villain.

Digital agriculture paves the road to agricultural sustainability
In a study published in Nature Sustainability, researchers outline how to develop a more sustainable land management system through data collection and stakeholder buy-in.

Comparisons of organic and conventional agriculture need to be better, say researchers
The environmental effects of agriculture and food are hotly debated.

EU agriculture not viable for the future
The current reform proposals of the EU Commission on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are unlikely to improve environmental protection, say researchers led by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the University of Göttingen in the journal Science.

Global agriculture: Impending threats to biodiversity
A new study compares the effects of expansion vs. intensification of cropland use on global agricultural markets and biodiversity, and finds that the expansion strategy poses a particularly serious threat to biodiversity in the tropics.

A new vision for genomics in animal agriculture
Iowa State University animal scientists helped to form a blueprint to guide the next decade of animal genomics research.

New pathways for sustainable agriculture
Diversity beats monotony: a colourful patchwork of small, differently used plots can bring advantages to agriculture and nature.

The future of agriculture is computerized
Researchers at the MIT Media Lab Open Agriculture Initiative have used computer algorithms to determine the optimal growing conditions to improve basil plants' taste by maximizing the concentration of flavorful molecules known as volatile compounds.

When yesterday's agriculture feeds today's water pollution
Water quality is threatened by a long history of fertilizer use on land, Canadian scientists find.

Read More: Agriculture News and Agriculture Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.