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 July 28, 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 July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
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