Protein discovery could improve soybean response to Cercospora

Bruce Schultz, Gould, Frances I., Blanchard, Tobie M.  |  11/9/2017 5:09:25 PM

Maria Izabel Costa de Novaes.jpg thumbnail

Maria Izabel Costa de Novaes, a research associate working with Dr. Zhi-yuan Chen, sprays Cercospora pathogen in the greenhouse. Photo by Bruce Schultz

A recent discovery by an LSU graduate student could help boost the soybean plant immune system.

Zhi-yuan Chen, LSU AgCenter plant pathologist, is working on different approaches for boosting soybean resistance to Cercospora.

One of his graduate students, Josielle Rezende, found a protein that the Cercospora fungus uses as protection against a soybean plant’s defense mechanisms. A soybean plant could have its immune system boosted by inserting part of the fungal gene for making that protein, stimulating the plant to recognize the protein as an infection.

Chen said Iowa State University is working with the AgCenter on this project, and additional genes have been found that can be used in combinations to increase efficacy, he said.

He also is working on spraying the intruder protein’s DNA on a plant’s leaves to build up a plant’s immunity.

“When the plant sees it, the plant will build up defenses,” Chen said.

The DNA has to be coated with nanoparticles to make sure the liquid will adhere to the leaf surfaces, he said. Currently, the process is too expensive to be used on a commercial basis.

“Hopefully something good will come out of this work,” he said.

Bruce Schultz

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