Crops will not be spoiled due to fungus, scientists have developed new method of disease control

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Farmers in India do not get the price of their crops right because many crops either get spoiled due to fungus or their quality gets affected. Sheath blight disease caused by the necrotrophic fungal pathogen (Rhizoctonia solani) bacteria is a major threat to many crops, including rice. Now scientists have found a solution to this problem. Researchers from the New Delhi-based National Institute of Plant Genome Research (NIPGR) have studied and claimed that Rhizoctonia solani can be modified to develop an effective strategy against sheath blight.

Dr. Gopal Jha, principal researcher of NIPGR associated with this study, reported that the depletion of C2H2 zinc transcription factor RSCRZ1 in tomato crop affects the disease caused by Rhizoctonia solani. Compared to normal plants, it has been found that the rate of disease drops significantly when RSCRZ1 is inactivated. We found that RSCRZ1 enables pathogenic bacteria to deal with resistant environments during the development process of the disease. He said that it is very important to understand the pathogenesis mechanism of microorganisms and find out how they harm plants. Only by doing this can effective strategies be developed for the prevention of bacteria responsible for diseases.

However, no methodology was available to analyze gene functioning of Rhizoctonia solani. In our study, we have developed a method to reduce the effect of Rhizoctonia solani genes and its role in the development of sheath blight disease in tomato crop. This method is based on the gene silencing method of neutralizing undesirable genes, in which fungal genes have been neutralized by RNA interference (RNAi) during the infection process.

The study, published in a journal called Molecular Plant Microbe Infections, stated that this study could prove to be an important link in understanding the mechanisms of Rhizoctonia solani responsible for sheath blight and developing strategies to control the disease. This study has also shown that this method can be used in controlling sheath blight in rice as well as in other crops in Rhizoctonia solani diseases.

Disease is controlled by chemicals

Sheath blight disease is usually controlled by spraying fungicide chemicals, which increases the cost of crop production. In addition, chemical residues exceeding the prescribed limit reduce the commercial value of crop products, which is a major constraint associated with the export of food products. Rice as well as Rhizoctonia solani are considered to cause diseases in other important crops including tomatoes. Therefore, scientists say that it is necessary to develop environmentally friendly and sustainable measures of disease control in this context.

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