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China makes major breakthrough in rice blast prevention

By Zhang Huan (People's Daily Online)    15:04, February 09, 2017

An economical and efficient means of controlling rice blast, a disease that reduces the output of rice in China, has been developed by He Zuhua’ s team at the Shanghai Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The results of the new method were recently published on Science, Xinhua reported on Feb. 8.

Scientists have been endeavoring to improve production and increase the disease resistance of rice for years. Today, most rice types resistant to blast are narrow-spectrum varieties with less application value, as they reduce the production and quality of rice when integrated into a single variety.

Through cooperation with breeders, He’s team selected germplasms resistant to plague, cloned Pigm, a broad-spectrum blast-resistant gene, and systematically analyzed the new preventative mechanism.

According to He, Pigm possesses durable resistance to diseases. Two genes on its locus contribute to this: one is disease-resistant but can reduce production, while the other can boost production but lacks resistance to disease. However, a combination of the two genes works satisfactorily and can prevent the evolution of pathogenic bacteria.

The research not only deepens the scientific community's understanding of immunity and disease resistance in plants, it also provides an effective tool for breeding resistance in other crops. So far, Pigm has been widely applied to breed disease-resistant rice in China, and new varieties are undergoing regional trials.

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