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November 6th, 2019

Bacteria that infect rice are thwarted by changes to rice genes involved in sugar transport.

Genome editing has made one of the world’s most important crops resistant to a devastating bacterial infection.

Bacterial blight, which is caused by Xanthomonas oryzae pathovar oryzae (Xoo), can slash farmers’ yields of rice, which is a staple food for billions of people. Seeking to lessen the blight’s impact, Ricardo Oliva at the International Rice Research Institute in Manila and his colleagues studied Xoo genes that code for proteins called TALEs. Xoo use these proteins to turn on the plant’s SWEET genes, which produce sugar-transporting molecules. This gives the bacteria access to nutrients in the plants’ leaves.

The team’s analysis of 63 Xoo strains revealed that each strain has one or more TALE variants. Each variant can activate at least one of three SWEET genes. Read more …