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Trends Biotechnol. 2003 Apr;21(4):178-83.

Plant disease resistance genes: recent insights and potential applications.

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  • 1Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology and Weed Science, Fralin Biotechnology Center, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0346, USA.


Plant disease resistance genes (R genes) encode proteins that detect pathogens. R genes have been used in resistance breeding programs for decades, with varying degrees of success. Recent molecular research on R proteins and downstream signal transduction networks has provided exciting insights, which will enhance the use of R genes for disease control. Definition of conserved structural motifs in R proteins has facilitated the cloning of useful R genes, including several that are functional in multiple crop species and/or provide resistance to a relatively wide range of pathogens. Numerous signal transduction components in the defense network have been defined, and several are being exploited as switches by which resistance can be activated against diverse pathogens.

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