Advance In The Battle Against 'Gray Mold'
ScienceDaily (Dec. 21, 2008) —
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
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
In the 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 researchers suggest.