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Scientists unravel the fungus responsible for Sheath Blight disease in rice

By EMN Updated: Jun 13, 2019 11:05 pm
Team of researchers at National Institute of Plant Genome Research

New Delhi, June 13 (India Science Wire): A team of scientists at Delhi-based National Institute of Plant Genome Research has unraveled the genomic diversity associated with aggressiveness of two Indian strains of Rhizoctonia solani, the fungal pathogen that causes the dreaded Sheath Blight disease in rice.

The researchers have identified several genes and gene families in the strain that might account for their disease aggressiveness. This genomic insight is expected to helpdeveloprice varieties resistant to sheath blight disease.

Sheath Blight disease is a major issue in rice cultivation. It can cause up to 60 per cent reduction in rice yield. It is difficult to breed disease resistant rice varieties,as there is lack of natural source of disease resistance. Consequently, controlling the disease in a sustainable manner has remained a challenge.

Now, a solution could be in the offing following the new findings. The researchers, who have been working to characterize the Indian strains of the fungal pathogen for the past four to five years, decided to study the genome of two of the hyper aggressive strains. Their analysis revealed that there has been expansion and emergence of various genes and gene families in both these Indian strains. In the process, they have identified various pathogenicity associated genes and gene families that might account for their disease aggressiveness.

Speaking to India Science Wire, leader of the team, Dr. Gopaljee Jhasaid, “Our team sequenced the genome of the two aggressive fungus strains called BRS11andBRS13 and compared them with the already available genome of Rhizoctoniasolani AG1-IA group. We have identified several Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms and insertion or deletion of bases inboth these genomes”.

Asked about future plans, he said, “Further characterization of the identified genes will be helpfulto understand their role in the pathogenesis of the fungus. The genetic manipulation of the pathogenicity-associated genes in ricethrough various biotechnological approaches may prove helpful in developing sheath blight resistantrice”.

In addition to Dr. Jha, the researchers included Srayan Ghosh, Neelofar Mirza, Poonam Kanwar and KritiTyagi. They have published a report on their study in research journal Functional and Integrative Genomics.

By EMN Updated: Jun 13, 2019 11:05:53 pm
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