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European rice: Transgenes for crop protection against fungal diseases

The purpose of this project is to improve and evaluate the use of genes expressed and involved in the resistance to fungal attack in the control of rice blast and other fungal diseases, which are major pests for rice in Europe. Selected resistance genes, under inducible or constitutive promoters, will be engineered to create new rice genotypes enhanced for resistance.

The overall objective of the programme is to improve and evaluate the use of genes expressed and involved in the resistance to fungal attack (PR genes) in the control of rice blast, and other fungal diseases affecting rice in Europe. This approach aims to create new rice genotypes enhanced for resistance, and addresses the construction of modified cultivars protected against massive attacks by pathogens, as well as to evaluate the genetically modified genotypes in the environment. Once resistance has been demonstrated, the programme aims to understand the mechanisms of the new traits acquired at the level of genetics, molecular biology, physiology and pathology. The final objective of the programme is to identify a valuable strategy in terms of crop protection of rice in Europe, associated with an assessment of the impact of GM-rice in the areas where rice is cultivated.

Progress to Date
Plants engineered with native and synthetic genes are being analysed. Molecular analyses is underway, and tests for characterising responses have begun. Experimental designs to be adopted in the field for a reliable evaluation of leaf and neck blast resistance have been performed. The evaluation of grain quality traits related to the disease effect has been accomplished in order to verify beneficial effects of the engineered genes. Experiments aimed at verifying gene flow from the engineered plants and cultivated rice, and the wild red rice, have been performed and seeds collected for evaluation in both cases. Safety of the strategies adopted for conducting the GM-field trial with respect to gene flow has been attested.

According to the progresses achieved so far, the final project period will see the following actions:
1) final characterisation of the transgenic events carrying single and double genes under a constitutive promoter
2) final genetic characterisation of regenerants expressing the maize b32 gene in the chloroplast
3) final evaluation of the experiments on environmental monitoring for gene flow
4) evaluation of the gene pyramiding strategy
5) pathogenicity assays for testing GM rice lines obtained against Magnaporthe grisea and Sclerotium
6) histological examination of the interaction Magnaporthe/GM rice for a deeper understanding of the transgene action.


Scientist responsible for the project

Via Stezzano, 24
24126 Bergamo
Italy - IT

Phone: +39 035313132
Fax: +39 035316054


Project ID QLRT-1999-01484
Organisation Istituto Sperimentale per la Cerealicoltura, Rome
Area 5.1.1
Start date 01 March 2000
Duration (months) 46
Total cost 2 394 321 €
Total EC contribution   1 414 762 €
Status Ongoing

The partners

  • Istituto Sperimentale per la Cerealicoltura - Roma, Italy - IT
  • Royal Veterinary and Agricultural Research University Department of Plant Biology, Denmark - DK
  • Centro de Investigacion y Desarrollo, CSIC Instituto de Biologia Molecular de Barcelona Departamento de Genetica Molecular, Spain - ES
  • Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement CIRAD-CA, France - FR
  • Institut de Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentàries - I.R.T.A. Departament de Genètica Vegetal, Spain - ES

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