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Surprises learned from plant immunity –challenges and opportunities for crop protection

Yulin Jia: USDA ARS, Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center

<div>Plant species have coevolved with their pathogens and both have survived under changing environments. The molecular mechanisms of disease resistance have been a focus of intense research over the last two decades. From the simplest model of elicitor and receptor interaction, to the complex active and passive defense responses learned from the plant kingdom, research has illustrated that plants have evolved remarkable multifaceted and sophisticated defense systems. These defense systems include localized and systemic responses all of which are governed by major and minor resistance (<em>R</em>) genes. For example, rice <em>R </em>genes that prevent infections by the fungus <em>Magnaporthe oryzae</em> were found among all rice chromosomes. Some blast <em>R </em>genes and genes controlling plant productivity are co-localized on recombination suppressed chromosomal regions of the rice genome. As a result, some robust <em>R</em> genes were lost and not effectively utilized due to domestication and extensive crop improvement efforts. Continued investigation of molecular mechanisms of plant immunity and cross-talk among genes involved in productivity can be enhanced by effective utilization of recent cutting edge technology like CRISPR-Cas 9 gene editing for crop protection. Contemporary knowledge of plant immunity and development of utilization strategies for crop improvement will be presented.</div>