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Modified yeast inhibits fungal growth in plants

Date: 16.7.2021 

About 70–80% of crop losses due to microbial diseases are caused by fungi. Fungicides are key weapons in agriculture's arsenal, but they pose environmental risks. Over time, fungi also develop a resistance to fungicides, leading growers on an endless quest for new and improved ways to combat fungal diseases.

Kredit: Mogana Das Murtey & Patchamuthu Ramasamy/CC BY-SA 3.0.To gain entrance into plant tissues, fungi produce enzymes that use catalytic reactions to break down tough cell walls. Among these are polygalacturonases, or PGs, but plants are not helpless against this attack. Plants produce proteins called PG-inhibiting proteins, or PGIPs, that slow catalysis.

A group of UC Riverside researchers located the segment of DNA that tells the plant how to make PGIPs in common green beans. They inserted complete and partial segments into the genomes of baker's yeast to make the yeast produce PGIPs.

After confirming the yeast was replicating with the new DNA, the researchers introduced it to cultures of Botrytis cinerea, a fungus that causes gray mold rot in peaches and other crops; and Aspergillus niger, which causes black mold on grapes and other fruits and vegetables.

Yeast that had both the complete and partial DNA segments that coded for PGIP production successfully retarded fungal growth. The result indicates the yeast was producing enough PGIPs to make the method a potential candidate for large-scale production.





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