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Tomato Stands Firm In Face Of Fungus

Date:
May 12, 2008
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Scientists have discovered how to keep one's tomatoes from wilting -- the answer lies at the molecular level. Farmers and fellow agriculturalists are continuously battling the ability of plant pathogens to co-evolve alongside their host's immune system. In agriculture, the most environmentally friendly way to combat the evolutionary change in plant diseases is to make use of the innate immune system of plants.

Scientists at the University of Amsterdam have discovered how to keep one's tomatoes from wilting -- the answer lies at the molecular level. The story of how the plant beat the pathogen, and what it means for combating other plant diseases has just been published.

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Farmers and fellow agriculturalists are continuously battling the ability of plant pathogens to co-evolve alongside their host's immune system. In agriculture, the most environmentally friendly way to combat the evolutionary change in plant diseases is to make use of the innate immune system of plants. Growers can cross into targeted plant varieties certain polymorphic resistance genes that occur in related plants, thereby naturally boosting the plant's immune system.

In this study, Dr. Martijn Rep and his team explored the molecular basis of this previously established concept of crossing in resistance genes. The authors considered the interaction between a fungal pathogen, Fusarium oxysporum, and the tomato plant in which the fungus causes Fusarium wilt disease.

The group found that a small protein secreted by some strains of the fungus causes it to overcome two of the tomato's disease resistance genes. However, a third resistance gene was shown to specifically target this suppressor protein, rendering the plant fully immune to any fungal strain that produces the protein. Thus, with the right set of resistance genes, tomatoes can beat the fungus despite the latter's "molecular tricks."

"This molecular analysis has revealed a hitherto unpredicted strategy for durable disease control based on resistance gene combinations," say the authors.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Petra M. Houterman, Ben J. C. Cornelissen, Martijn Rep, Brendan P. Cormack. Suppression of Plant Resistance Gene-Based Immunity by a Fungal Effector. PLoS Pathogens, 2008; 4 (5): e1000061 DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000061

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Tomato Stands Firm In Face Of Fungus." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080508222429.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2008, May 12). Tomato Stands Firm In Face Of Fungus. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080508222429.htm
Public Library of Science. "Tomato Stands Firm In Face Of Fungus." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080508222429.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

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