RICE - Resistance Induced by Chitin Excretion
Every year, approximately 30 percent of rice crops across the world are damaged due to Magnaporthe oryzae, commonly known as rice blast fungus. While rice plants have receptors that sense chitin from fungal pathogens, M. oryzae secretes a chitinase to break down its own chitin before it is detected. Using this chitinase, M. oryzae is able to avoid triggering the rice's defense mechanism that would inhibit the spread of the fungal infection. However, by preemptively exposing the rice plant to chitin it is possible to trigger the rice’s defense mechanisms before M. oryzae can suppress detection methods. In order to accomplish this, we worked to develop a method of exposing rice plants to chitin by introducing NodC, a chitin synthase homolog, into Pseudomonas fluorescens, a bacterium that naturally lives on rice leaves. By decreasing crop losses, our project can work towards increasing global food supply and bring agricultural innovation.