Black-Grass Resistance Gene Discovered
News Jul 08, 2013
BBSRC-funded scientists at the Universities of York and Durham have discovered a gene called AmGSTF1 that plays a key role in controlling multi-herbicide resistance (MHR) in black-grass and rye-grass. Chemicals that inhibit this gene can be used to make weed killers effective against resistant weeds.
Black-grass and rye-grass are both widespread and serious weed problems in cereal and oilseed rape rotations. Control using weed killers is becoming increasingly problematic, with an estimated 1.2 million ha of UK land now infested with black-grass. Both black-grass and rye-grass can acquire a single defence mechanism that confers resistance to all weed killers, whatever their mode of action (MHR).
The genetics of MHR has been little understood until now. But in recently published research, the scientists have shown that a gene producing an enzyme called glutathione transferase (GST) is responsible for switching on MHR. When the gene was transferred to thale cress, the transgenic plants became resistant. "GSTs are known to detoxify herbicides directly," explains project leader Professor Rob Edwards of the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products at the University of York, "but we believe that our gene works as a master switch that activates a wide range of protective mechanisms."
When sprayed with a GST- inhibiting chemical, resistant plants became susceptible to weed killers. Although the compound used in these experiments is not suitable for use as an agrochemical, this experiment demonstrates the potential of GST inhibitors to improve the effectiveness of weed killers against resistant black-grass and rye-grass.
Professor Edwards believes this to be an important development. "These weeds have developed resistance to every type of herbicide available to farmers and the problem is getting worse", he explains. "We have identified a group of compounds that could be applied along with existing weed-killers to restore the effective weed control we are currently losing". Professor Edwards' team are also developing a genetic test for AmGSTF1 that could provide the first reliable diagnosis of MHR, an important step in deciding on the right weed control strategy.
New Drug Delivery System Targets Diseases at a Genetic LevelNews
A new drug delivery system that uses a synthetic-biological hybrid nanocapsule could provide a smart technology for targeted treatment of a variety of serious diseases at the genetic level.
Public Resource of Cellular Effects of Drugs and Genes Boosts Drug Discovery and Offers Insights Into Protein FunctionNews
Researchers have taken the Connectivity Map — a widely used resource of tools and data — to new heights with a massively scaled-up version including more cell types, more perturbations, and more types of data, including proteomic and cellular imaging data. For this new platform, the researchers have also improved its accessibility for the scientific community, enabling studies of small molecule and gene function and informing clinical trials.READ MORE
Maize Pest Exploits Plant Defense Compounds to Protect ItselfNews
Rootworm larvae are able to sequester plant defense compounds from maize roots in a non-toxic form and can activate the toxins whenever they need them to protect themselves against their own enemies.READ MORE