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Danforth Center Research Advances
Understanding of Rice Infection
Danforth Center President Dr. Roger N. Beachy
and Research Scientist Dr. Shunhong Dai recently
demonstrated that transgenic rice plants that
overexpress either of two rice proteins are tolerant
to infection caused by the rice tungro bacilliform
virus, which is largely responsible for the symptoms
associated with rice tungro disease. The two proteins,
RF2a and RF2b, were discovered in Dr. Beachy’s lab several
years ago and are known to be important for plant development. The
new data suggest that they may be involved in regulating defense
mechanisms that protect against virus infection. The discovery, published
in the December 22, 2008 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences, may open new avenues in the search for disease resistance genes
and pathways in plants and other organisms.
Plant viral diseases cause serious economic losses in agriculture,
second only to those caused by fungal diseases. Rice tungro disease
is prevalent primarily in South and Southeast Asia and accounts for a
nearly $1.5 billion annual loss in rice production worldwide. Preventing
the occurrence and spread of this virus could result in increased yields
ranging from five to ten percent annually in affected areas.
Japan Tobacco Inc. Donates Technology
to Improve Cassava for Africa
Japan Tobacco Inc. has signed a and several micronutrients,
humanitarian license agreement leaving those who depend on the
to donate the company’s PureMlb
crop susceptible to malnutrition.
technology to the Donald Danforth Danforth Center scientists
Plant Science Center for are working to both enhance
the development of cassava’s virus resistance
cassava varieties that as well as its nutritional
are resistant to viral content. This effort relies
diseases and enhanced on a tissue transformation
with essential nutrients. The process that integrates new
agreement is an important information into the plants’
step toward successfully genetic material. Japan
delivering improved cassava Tobacco’s PureMlb
to malnourished populations in increases the precision of the
developing countries. transformation process. This
Cassava is a key food crop for
improvement in precision will
millions of people in sub-Saharan
lead to immediate and significant
Africa. However, the plant’s starchy
increases in the speed of creating
roots are low in protein, vitamins,
high-quality test plants.
20 2008 Annual Report
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