Virulent Pathogen Uses a Genetic Decoy to Foil Host’s Immune Defenses 

A virulent plant-disease agent called Phytophthora sojae knocks out resistance in its soybean host by sending out a “decoy” protein to confuse the plant’s immune system, according to a study published in the Jan. 12, Science journal.

The newly uncovered mechanism may explain why the group of plant pathogens known as Phytophthora are so devastating to crops and natural ecosystems worldwide. According to Brett Tyler, director of Oregon State University’s Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing and a plant pathologist in the College of Agricultural Sciences, this discovery could open new approaches to controlling a wide diversity of destructive plant pathogens, including fungi and bacteria.

The study builds on 13 years of collaboration between the Chinese and American research teams to combat Phytophthora pathogens, which cause billions of dollars in agricultural losses each year.

Read the full release at Oregon State University Extension Service.

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