Genetically Modified Organism Research Center

Disease Resistant Crops Research Unit

Elucidation of disease resistance mechanisms in plants and development of transgenic disease resistant crops

 Infectious diseases due to various fungal and bacterial pathogens can severely damage crop production, and the controls of those pathogens have been costly. Plants have innate defense mechanisms to resist pathogen infection. However, plants become diseased when such defense mechanisms fail to function properly or when pathogens have developed infectionus strategies to overcome the defense mechanisms. With rice as a model system, we are investigating plants' responses to the infection of agronomically important pathogens, such as Magnaporthe oryzae, which causes rice blast disease, and the plants' mechanisms to resist the diseases at the molecular levels. We have been searching for important genes that play roles in the defense mechanisms and that can enhance plant resistance to the diseases. By using these genes and information, we will develop transgenic crops that are resistant to multiple diseases.

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    Rice plants overexpressing WRKY45 are resistant to blast (left) and leaf-blight (right) diseases.
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    Rice gene Pb1 confers panicle-blast resistance to rice
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    GFP-expressing blast fungi invading leaf sheath cells of rice