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Research Project: Genetics of Disease Resistance and Food Quality Traits in Corn

Location: Plant Science Research

Title: Close encounters in the corn field

item Balint-Kurti, Peter
item KIM, SAET BYUL - North Carolina State University

Submitted to: Molecular Plant
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/2/2022
Publication Date: 2/10/2022
Citation: Balint Kurti, P.J., Kim, S. 2022. Close encounters in the corn field. Molecular Plant. 15:802-804.

Interpretive Summary: This manuscript provides comment, background and context to an accompanying research paper to be published in the same issue of the journal “Molecular Plant”. The research paper (Deng et al 2022) reports the identification of a corn gene that produces a protein that confers resistance to a fungal leaf disease called southern corn rust. It also identified the gene in the fungus that produces the protein that is recognized by the resistance protein. This is the first time that a “matching pair” of gene like this has been reported in corn. Our commentary summarizes the results of the Deng et al paper and discusses their importance in the context of the wider literature on disease resistance in corn and in plants in general.

Technical Abstract: Southern corn rust (SCR), caused by P. polysora, is one of the most important foliar disease of maize in the US(Mueller et al., 2020) and is a serious problem in China. The study by Deng et al (Deng et al., 2022) reports the cloning of RppC the first molecularly identified resistance gene for SCR. Many SCR resistance genes have been mapped to the Rpp locus on maize chromosome 10 over the last 50 years. RppC is the most frequently deployed SCR R-gene in China and is found in half its top-30 ranking SCR-resistant hybrids. Deng et al(Deng et al., 2022) also report identification of the cognate AvrRppC gene, making this the first molecular identification of a cognate R-/Avr-gene pair in maize. The third noteworthy aspect of this work was the characterization of the prevalence of different alleles of AvrRppC across China.