Researchers find key to gray mold infections

10/04/2013 01:18:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

moldy strawberriesCourtesy University of California, RiversideBotrytis cinerea causes gray mold in strawberries.A group of University of California, Riverside, researchers believe they've unlocked the molecular mechanism that allows gray mold to infect a host of fruits and vegetables.

Many bacteria, fungi and oomycetes deliver protein effectors—molecules they secretes—into the cells of host plants to eventually compromise host immunity, according to a news release.

The researchers found that gray mold mold, caused by Botrytis cinerea delivers RNA effectors, or small RNA molecules, into host cells to suppress immunity.

With Botrytis specifically, these small RNAs silence defense genes. As a result, the host plant is less able to resist fungal attack.

Past research has identified proteins as effectors. This is the first study to add the RNA molecule to the list.

The discovery should help researchers develop new ways to control aggressive plant pathogens, according to the release.

The group, lead by Jailing Jin, a professor of plant pathology and microbiology, plan to explore whether the mechanism they discovered in Botrytis is found in other aggressive pathogens.

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