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Newly identified gene may halt fuzzy, moldy fruit

In learning how to prevent necrotrophic pathogens, the researchers face a problem because biotropic pathogens also attack plants. These are pathogens that feed on live cells. Some plants actually kill their own cells at the site where a biotrophic pathogen is trying to invade in an effort to combat the threat.

"The methods that work to protect against biotrophic pathogens may actually promote necrotrophic pathogens," Mengiste said.

But he said he believes understanding the molecular workings of plants' natural methods of fighting off disease is the best way to overcome pathogens.

The BOS1gene appears to control other genes and seems to provide resistance to several types of stresses. In other words, it controls a number of different genes or proteins in a molecular pathway that determines whether a plant overcomes adversity.

"In terms of biotechnology and improvements of both agricultural and horticultural plants through molecular approaches, it's important that this gene is a regulatory protein because it means you can just alter it so there is more or less of it. An alteration of the gene then can control multiple genes further down the pathway," he said.

"This way we could increase yield and quality of some plants depending on the conditions and/or diseases that may affect them."


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Contact: Susan A. Steeves
ssteeves@purdue.edu
765-496-7481
Purdue University
24-Oct-2003


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