A genetically engineered strain of cereal has been developed that is resistant to rice tungro disease. If this viral infection breaks out, it can destroy nearly 90 per cent of a crop. A team of researchers led by Roger Beachy of the International Laboratory for Tropical Agricultural Biotechnology at the Scripps Research Institute, California, USA, has developed the strain. Two viruses are required to transmit rice tungro disease from plant to plant, and the epidemic only occurs when plagues of leaf hoppers are around. The symptoms of the disease are caused by the DNA-containing rice tungro bacciliform virus. But unless the RNA-containing rice tungro spherical virus is present, the leaf hoppers cannot produce a protein, which they need to pick up the infection and pass it on. The rice plants have been equipped with copies of viral genes that allow them to produce the same proteins the viruses do. The genes make a protein in a virus that helps the virus to reproduce. Rice plants containing these viral genes show resistance to tungro. When the viruses fight with viral proteins, they stop reproducing ( New Scientist , Vol 155, No 2100).
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.