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Use of the Arabidopsis thaliana TBF1 gene for engineering disease resistance in plants

Value proposition

Despite widespread pesticide use and careful farming practices, bacterial and fungal pathogens cause the loss of an estimated 15% of global crop production every year. One possibility to address this is through improved pathogen resistance by expressing resistance genes in plants through genetic engineering. However, previous attempts to overexpress single resistance genes using classical methods lead to reduced plant growth, a typical consequence of plant immune responses. This invention provides a system enabling the expression of immune genes in plants only when infection is detected. Therefore, this technology avoids growth problems associated with constitutive expression while retaining disease-resistance properties, and is thus a novel strategy to improve yields of crops affected by pathogens.

Technology

The inventors have identified a novel transcription factor, TBF1, which is selectively induced upon infection with plant pathogens or in response to immune signaling molecules. The pathogen-inducible feature of TBF1 is regulated transcriptionally (by a specific promoter), but also by a novel translational control mechanism. When pathogens are not present, TBF1 transcription is low and the transcript that is expressed is prevented from being translated into a functional protein. Upon infection, TBF1 expression is induced, and the presence of pathogen allows the translation of mature TBF1 protein. Since TBF1 controls the expression of many plant immune genes, this system could be directly inserted into a crop plant to enable pathogen-induced immune function. Alternatively, the regulatory regions of TBF1 can be used to control expression of another disease resistance gene. This latter function has been demonstrated in rice, where regulated expression of the NPR1 gene confers broad spectrum disease resistance without compromising growth.

Other applicaitons

This system could be used to enable infection-regulated control of any desired gene in plants for agricultural or research purposes.

Advantages

  • Improved infection resistance while preserving growth properties
  • Multi-layered control mechanism enables fine-tuning
  • Potential application across a wide spectrum of plant species.

Duke File (IDF) Number

T-003810

Inventor(s)

  • Dong, Xinnian
  • Mukhtar, Karolina

Patents

    • Patent Number: 10/017,77316/003,289
    • Title: THE HSF-LIKE TRANSCRIPTION FACTOR, TBF1, IS A MAJOR MOLECULAR SWITCH FOR GROWTH-TO-DEFENSE TRANSITION IN PLANTSHSF-LIKE TRANSCRIPTION FACTOR, TBF1, IS A MAJOR MOLECULAR SWITCH FOR GROWTH-TO-DEFENSE TRANSITION IN PLANTS
    • Country: United States of AmericaUnited States of America

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College

Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

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