Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Monday, January 17, 2011

EU-funded scientists sequence fungal disease genome

EU-funded researchers have sequenced the genome of a major fungal disease that affects various cereal crops including barley. Presented in the journal Science, the research could help bolster our understanding of the evolution of plants.

The study was funded in part by the BIOEXPLOIT ('Exploitation of natural plant biodiversity for the pesticide-free production of food') project, which is backed with almost EUR 16 million under the 'Food quality and safety' Thematic area of the EU's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). The researchers, led by Imperial College London (ICL) in the UK, say their study helps shed light on how parasites within the genome of the fungus facilitate a disease's adaption and fight against a plant's defences.

They add that new agricultural techniques can be developed, making it easier to keep infection at bay and sustain the health of cereal crops. Ensuring that plants stay free from disease is also a mega step towards securing food in our planet.

Researchers from Germany and France contributed to this study.

Reference: 20/12/2010 EC Research Information Center

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