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An international team led by scientists at the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, UK, have transferred broad spectrum resistance against some important plant diseases across different plant families. This breakthrough provides a new way to produce crops with sustainable resistance to economically important diseases.

“The strength of this resistance is because it has come from a different plant family, which the pathogen has not had any chance to adapt to. Through genetic modification, we can now transfer this resistance across plant species boundaries in a way traditional breeding cannot,” said Dr Cyril Zipfel.

Published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, the finding, that plant recognition receptors can be successfully transferred from one plant family to another provides a new biotechnological solution to engineering diseaseresistance. The Zipfel group is currently extending this work to other crops including potato, apple, cassava and banana that all suffer from important bacterial diseases, particularly in the developing world.

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