Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Agriculture: Gray Mold's Killer Gene Discovered

Date:
December 3, 2008
Source:
Brown University
Summary:
Gray mold is a gardener’s nightmare. The fungus, also known by its scientific name Botrytis cinerea, is a scourge to more than 200 agricultural and ornamental plant species, including staples such as tomatoes, strawberries, snap and lima beans, cabbage, lettuce and endive, peas, peppers, and potatoes. Chemists have now identified the genetic sequence behind gray mold's killer arsenal. The scientists report that deletion of a single, mastermind gene from gray mold's DNA shuts down its ability to produce toxins that kill cells in more than 200 species of garden and ornamental plants.

Cane and colleagues in France and Spain have identified the DNA that gives gray mold its lethal power over useful plants and have devised a way to control the mold naturally.
Credit: John Abromowski/Brown University

Gray mold is a gardener’s nightmare. The fungus, also known by its scientific name Botrytis cinerea, is a scourge to more than 200 agricultural and ornamental plant species, including staples such as tomatoes, strawberries, snap and lima beans, cabbage, lettuce and endive, peas, peppers, and potatoes. Gray mold envelops its target in a velvety vise, releasing a toxin that poisons the host plants’ cells, eventually causing the plant to die.

So far, the only way to eliminate the pathogen is to spray plants with fungicides, which can be costly and can contaminate the surrounding environment.

Now Brown University chemist David Cane, working with researchers in France and Spain, has figured out how the fungus’s deadly toxin is made and how it might be disarmed naturally. In a paper published online in ACS Chemical Biology, the scientists have identified the set of genes that manufactures the toxin and in particular the central gene the fungus uses for this synthesis. They also have also shown that shutting off this gene by interrupting the fungus’s DNA completely shuts down toxin production, removing the special weapon the mold uses to kill and invade target plant cells.

“It’s a big step to being able to disarm this toxin naturally through a combination of DNA sequencing and chemistry,” said Cane, the Vernon K. Krieble Professor of Chemistry and professor of biochemistry, one of three primary authors of the paper.

The researchers, led by French scientist and paper co-author Muriel Viaud, started by determining the complete DNA sequence for Botrytis cinerea. Working with Spanish organic chemist and paper co-author Isidro Collado, the scientists focused on the chemical agent — botrydial — that gray mold uses to overwhelm host plants.

The culprit is an enzyme called a sesquiterpene cyclase, Cane’s laboratory found.

“The metabolic pathways for creating organic compounds typically involve gene clusters, like a package,” Cane explained. “One great advantage to our investigation is that if you find one, you look to the left or to the right, and you find the others.”

In laboratory tests, Cane and the team introduced a mutant gene that deleted the sesquiterpene cyclase, which completely abolished production of the toxin.

“This means that if you can inhibit the enzyme from this pathway, you can eliminate this toxin,” Cane said.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health, the INRA Jeune Equipe in France and the Ministry of Education and Science in Spain funded the research.

The team now is working on a similar procedure to tackle a strain of Botrytis cinerea that is able to produce both botrydial and a second toxin that it uses to attack its plant targets.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brown University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Brown University. "Agriculture: Gray Mold's Killer Gene Discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081201144733.htm>.
Brown University. (2008, December 3). Agriculture: Gray Mold's Killer Gene Discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081201144733.htm
Brown University. "Agriculture: Gray Mold's Killer Gene Discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081201144733.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins