Does rust-free rice hold the secret?

All cereals, except rice, are susceptible to rust. Wheat, maize, barley, millet, triticale, and oats all get rust. The spores of rust fungi land on a host plant, germinate, and grow toward a stomatal pore on the leaf surface to initiate infection. Rust infections produce red or yellow pustulating spores that give infected plants a “rusty” look. In susceptible plants, rust cuts off the plants’ ability to photosynthesise nutrients in their leaves and transport nutrients in their stems, causing stems to weaken and plants to fall over, making what little yield there is nearly impossible to harvest.

Rice, the “stainless steel” among cereal grasses, has long intrigued plant breeders and plant pathologists. For decades scientists have believed that, by discovering the genes that make rice immune to rusts, they might be able to introduce these genes into other cereal grains such as wheat and maize.

Read more of this post

Hessian fly heading for the sack

Wheat crops suffer millions of dollars’ worth of damage each year due to the hessian fly, Mayetiola destructor. The most effective control method is genetic resistance, when wheat resistance genes cause death of the attacking larvae by activating a defense response against avirulent hessian flies. Unfortunately this has led to flies that can overcome resistant wheat and the need for regular evaluations of field collections of this pest.

Read more of this post

Fast but furious: High yielding plants linked to poor pest resistance

Breeding plants for fast growth and high yield may make them more susceptible to pests and diseases. New research from the University of Zurich using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana has confirmed long suspected theory, showing that when plants put more resources into growth they often shut down some defence genes.

Read more of this post

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,148 other followers