Fighting fungi

Published: Saturday 31 August 1996

Investigators in France have shown that bioengineered plants that disrupt fungal cell walls are resistant to fungal pests and they can reduce or eliminate the need for chemical fungicides. The group has devel oped a transgenic rapeseed ( Brassica napus ) that produces a chitinase gene at high levels enabling the plant to breakdown chitin, a component of cell walls of all fungi, thus killing the pathogen. Field trials against fungi like Cylindrosporium concentricium, Phoma lingam and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum have been highly successful ( Nature Biotechnology , Vol 14, No 5).

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