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Transformative Strategy for Controlling Rice Blight

Wolf Frommer of the Carnegie Institution for Science in the U.S., along with Bing Yang of Iowa State University and Frank White of Kansas State University will modify rice to be stably resistant to all strains of a major rice pathogen. Rice bacterial blight can cause up to 60% loss of yield in Asia and there are currently no effective ways to stop it. These bacteria steal sugar from the rice plants to fuel their own growth. They will block this fundamental mechanism by selectively modifying the DNA sequence of the rice using their TALEN technology. In Phase I, they modified two gene promoters in a Japanese rice variety and found that it became resistant to over 90% of bacterial blight strains. In Phase II they will expand resistance to cover all known strains and perform field tests. They will also develop tools to characterize the different bacterial strains across Africa and Asia, and monitor any genetic changes that may influence pathogenicity.

More information about Protect Crop Plants from Biotic Stresses from Field to Market (Round 9)

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View the Grand Challenges partnership network

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is part of the Grand Challenges partnership network. Visit www.grandchallenges.org to view the map of awarded grants across this network and grant opportunities from partners.