Friday, November 28, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Gene sequencing targets parasitic plants

By
From page A7 | August 21, 2013 |

An international research team, including a UC Davis plant scientist, is using the molecular magic of gene sequencing and transfer to break the stranglehold of witchweed and other parasitic plants that annually cause billions of dollars in crop losses around the world.

Joining forces through the Parasitic Plant Genome Project, funded by the National Science Foundation, UC Davis professor John Yoder and colleagues are identifying the genome-wide changes that have evolved to equip this intriguing but often devastating group of wild plants to develop their parasitic lifestyle.

“We know that parasitic plants evolved from non-parasitic plants, so we take an evolutionary approach and ask, ‘What are the genetic changes that make a plant parasitic, and what are the genetic consequences once a plant becomes a parasite?’” said Yoder, whose lab in the department of plant sciences is contributing to the Parasitic Plant Genome Project

“The next stage is to identify critical parasite genes and pathways and use this information to develop parasite-resistant crops.”

In a May cover article for the journal Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions, Yoder and co-author Pradeepa C.G. Bandaranayake of the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, demonstrated a new strategy for engineering within host plants a killer DNA molecule that is toxic to at least one species of Orobanchaceae.

This family of almost 2,000 parasitic plant species includes some of the world’s worst agricultural pests, notably Striga or witchweed and Orobanche, also known as broomrape.

Striga, for example, has a reputation for covertly destroying crop fields. By the time the purple flowers of this parasitic weed have bloomed, the field is already ruined. Removed from the soil, Striga can return decades later through dormant seeds. The infestations are particularly devastating to staple crops like rice, maize, millet and sorghum in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.

Because Striga and Orobanche can be so invasive, researchers in the Yoder lab instead use in their studies the closely related parasitic plant Triphysaria, or dwarf owls clover, which is native to California.

The recently published study showed that an inhibitory RNA gene-transfer technique could reduce by 80 percent the viability of Triphysaria roots after the parasite has attached to the genetically modified host.

A $3.4 million grant, recently awarded by the National Science Foundation to the Parasitic Plant Genome Project, will enable Yoder and his research colleagues to conduct controlled laboratory experiments that will be followed by field testing in Israel, Kenya or Morocco.

“The next step will be to take the gene that has proven effective against Triphysaria and put it into crops, in particular tomato and maize, to test it against Orobanche and Striga and see if it actually works against real weeds,” Yoder said.

— UC Davis News Service

Comments

comments

.

News

Shop-local focus highlights Small Business Saturday

By Bob Schultz | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Looking for the gift of life

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

The artistic process of a neighborhood legend

By Lily Holmes | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Davis MRAP didn’t go far: Woodland

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

Holiday shopping in full gear

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Tell us your Putah Creek stories

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

Gorilla death prompts S.F. Zoo changes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Bob Dunning: MRAP your arms around this

By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

Ceremony Tuesday celebrates MU bus terminal

By Dave Jones | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Explorit: Water expert will speak Dec. 15

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A3

 
Free bike clinic, ride set Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Locals come through for families in need

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Travel the world at Logos Books

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Dormant-season pruning tips offered

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Junior high students set walkathon fundraiser

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Horse owners needed for online survey

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Sierra Club calendars on sale Saturday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Enterprise holiday decorating contest is back

By Kimberly Yarris | From Page: A4

 
Flyway Nights talk focuses on sea otters of Elkhorn Slough

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Chamber of Commerce lays out 5-year plan

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Holiday gifts galore available at crafts fair

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

Shakespeare folio discovered in France

By New York Times News Service | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Students come together for sustainability

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

Workshop will answer financial aid questions

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
Wolks share their unique perspective on Davis

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Christmas Bird Count workshop planned Wednesday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Watch, then make, a holiday floral decoration

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

.

Forum

Behavior straining friendship

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
It all started at the bookstore

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

What can we do to help?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
What if we really need it?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

 
Tom Elias: Utilities look to soak small users

By Tom Elias | From Page: A6

Cheers and Jeers: Thankfully, no jeers

By Our View | From Page: A6

 
Many thanks for a great benefit

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

.

Sports

Seahawks shut down San Francisco

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Aggies out-Fox Utah State after dramatic Les shot to forces overtime

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Defense, depth lead Aggie women to home win

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
 
Youth roundup: 10 titles for the Diamonds Level 3 gymnastics squad

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B4 | Gallery

.

Features

.

Arts

Mumbo Gumbo plays for post-Thanksgiving dance party

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

 
‘Horrible Bosses 2′: Fire ‘em all!

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
.

Business

Sonata evolves into more sophisticated car

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

John Walter Neves Jr.

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Friday, November 28, 2014 (set 2)

By Creator | From Page: B3

 
Comics: Friday, November 28, 2014 (set 1)

By Creator | From Page: A10