Editing Rice DNA As Defense Against Pathogens

In Southeast Asia and West Africa, rice crops are always attacked by bacterial blight. This crop disease is very well studied, and it is often used as a model system to analyze how microbes and host plants interact with each other. Called Xoo, for Xanthomonas oryzae pathovar oryzae, the pathogen, in order to survive, hijacks a number of rice genes that export sugars.

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Xoo secretes TALes (transcription activator-like effector molecules) that bind to the DNA near the rice’s SWEET genes, activating them. These SWEET genes (Sugars Will Eventually Be Exported Transporters) are ubiquitous in plants. As their name indicates, the SWEET proteins transport sucrose across the cell membrane. Their expression is required for susceptibility to Xoo.

To help the plants combat these pathogens, scientists used CRISPR to edit the rice DNA.

Find out more about this over at Ars Technica.

(Image Credit: Hans/ Pixabay)

Source: neatorama

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