Scientists are reporting identification of the cluster of genes responsible for
the toxins produced by “gray mold,” a devastating plant disease that kills
almost 200 different food and ornamental plants including tomatoes, strawberries
and roses. Their findings could lead to genetically engineered crops or new
fungicides to fight this disease, which frustrates backyard gardeners and
commercial farmers alike, the researchers say. The study is in the current
online issue issue of ACS Chemical
Biology, a monthly journal.
David Cane, Isidro Collado,
Muriel Viaud and colleagues note that gray mold is so-named because it covers
infected plants with fuzzy gray spores that can ultimately kill plants. A fungus
named Botrytis cinerea causes the
disease. Studies show that the fungus kills by producing two main plant toxins,
botrydial and botcinic acid. Conventional fungicides are largely ineffective in
destroying the fungus, which can easily spread to other plants.
new study, the scientists describe the identification of five genes involved in
producing the enzymes that are responsible for making the toxins produced by the
fungus. In lab studies, the researchers showed that inactivating one of the
genes, called BcBOT2, blocked the gene cluster’s ability to make the botrydial
toxin. The finding could help the development of new, more effective fungicides
or other resistance strategies, that target the ability of B. cinerea to make botrydial, the
-- An American Chemical Society (ACS) News Release on December 10, 2008.