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New strategies to stop bacterial blight

Research Achievements

New strategies to stop bacterial blight

Bacterial blight in rice is caused by the bacterium, X. oryzae, which can reduce harvest by up to 30 percent. Thanks to the recent success of an interdisciplinary team at ISU, new strategies to halt the bacterium are on the horizon. Adam Bogdanove (IGERT advisor, Plant Pathology) and Matthew Moscou (IGERT associate) used computational methods to decipher the "homing signals' that bacterial proteins use to identify binding sites in rice genomic DNA. The bacterial proteins act as transcription factors to activate expression of certain plant genes, initiating a series of molecular events that ultimately allow the microbe to outwit the plant's natural defenses. The discovery was published in a paper entitled "A Simple Cipher Governs DNA Recognition by TAL Effectors," and was featured on the cover of Science in December 2009. Interdisciplinary teamwork fostered by our IGERT-sponsored BCBLab at ISU was critical for bringing Adam and Matt together.