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How plant scientists at Cambridge are trying to defend our most important crops from a deadly disease

last modified Jun 05, 2019 12:22 PM
Plant scientists in Cambridge have discovered how gene activity can increase plant resistance to blight.

Phytophthora infestans (“Plant destroyer”), an oomycete, or water mould, devastated Ireland’s potato crop with late blight disease in the 1840s, and together with more than 100 other species of Phytophthora, continues to cause significant plant damage today. Phytophthora, which threatens agricultural crops, tropical and forest ecosystems, and the plant nursery industry, has proven adept at evolving strategies to overcome efforts to breed more resistant crops and develop chemical controls. However, in a significant recent breakthrough, Sebastian Schornack’s research team at the Sainsbury Laboratory in Cambridge discovered that increasing the activity of a single gene can increase a plant’s resistance to blight at its epidermis. Read the full article here.