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Crop roundup: sudden death syndrome

Kacey Birchmier 01/24/2014 @ 4:44pm I grew up on a fourth-generation farm in central Iowa. Follow me on twitter - @KaceyBirchmier.

Iowa State University researchers take steps toward improved SDS resistance, a new discovery could lead to herbicides and fertilizers working naturally with plants, Bayer CropScience gives €1 million (EUR) to support physical mapping of several wheat chromosomes, and split nitrogen applications could save you money.

ISU researchers sequence genome of a soybean fungus responsible for sudden death syndrome
Researchers at Iowa State University have generated a draft genome sequence of Fusarium virguliforme, a pathogen that causes sudden death syndrome (SDS) in soybeans.
Using this draft genome sequence, the scientists have identified candidate genes required for causing SDS in soybeans and also the genes unique to this pathogen.  The sequencing was funded by the Iowa Soybean Association and the Soybean Research Development Council.
Madan Bhattacharyya, an associate professor of agronomy leading the research team, said the genome sequence generated for the research community will expedite efforts towards discovering mechanisms this pathogen uses to cause disease, and will ultimately lead to soybeans with improved SDS resistance.
“We’ve just drawn the roadmap so that researchers can do their work in an efficient way. This is a resource for them to avoid doing all the hard experiments that took us more than six months. Now we can do the same work in less than a week,” Bhattacharyya said. “There is so much known about pathogens similar to our SDS pathogen, we can use that information to quickly determine if it is applicable to our pathogen.”
Bhattacharyya says future plans include creating a gene for the development of a soybean resistant to SDS. They also have started to incorporate resistance genes from another plant species into soybean plants for enhancing SDS resistance. And they will explore if soybean can genetically be modified to suppress the growth of the SDS pathogen in infected roots. The work has been funded by a $5.35 million Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) that started in January 2013.
“Our goal has been to produce SDS-resistant soybean plants. Thanks to the funding from USDA-NIFA, and also from Iowa Soybean Association; we have a golden opportunity to accomplish our longer-term goal. We are beginning our second year of the grants from both agencies and already we’ve made a lot of progress,” he said.
“Because the genetic and biochemical interactions between pathogens and their host plants are complex and constantly evolving, a thorough understanding of the pathogen genome is essential for developing durable defense strategies to protect plants against these disease pathogens,” said Ed Anderson, senior director of supply and production systems at the Iowa Soybean Association.
Newly discovered receptors in plants help them recover from environmental changes, pests, and plant wounds

ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is the main energy source inside a cell and is considered to be the high energy molecule that drives all life processes in animals and humans. Outside the cell, membrane receptors that attract ATP drive muscle control, neurotransmission, inflammation and development.  Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found the same receptor in plants and believe it to be a vital component in the way plants respond to dangers, including pests, environmental changes and plant wounds. This discovery could lead to herbicides, fertilizers and insect repellants that naturally work with plants to make them stronger.

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