CDFD scientist develops mechanism on bio-control of destructive bacteria to the crops

By Times Of India on 15 Apr 2018
HYDERABAD: In what could be termed as an alternative to Genetically Modified crops, a study by scientists of the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics haS shown that a bio-control method is used to control Xanthomonas bacteria that affects major agricultural and horticultural crops like rice, cabbage, pomegranate, tomato and citrus.
The bacteria is known for causing 30 to 50% of damage to the crops.

CDFD staff scientist Subhadeep Chatterjee told TOI that his study found that that low-iron condition triggered the expression of a cluster of disease-causing genes in the bacteria.

“The study had shown by simple application of a soluble form of iron in the plants suppresses the disease. This will minimise the production of disease-causing proteins,”

Chatterjee added: "A group of bacteria known as Xanthomonas causes heavy agricultural loss, especially under humid conditions. A research is going on to understand the disease mechanism of Xanthomonas bacteria and to understand the basic process of pathogenicity. We have identified several virulence factors in this pathogen including bacterial signalling molecules, movement and attachment, which contribute to the causes of diseases. Iron, which is also an important nutrient for the plant, is the major signal which triggers on the pathogen to cause more diseases.”

By changing the iron level under laboratory conditions, the researcher could mimic the disease condition which is encountered by the pathogenic Xanthomonas bacteria when it infects or comes in contact with the plant.

Journal of Environmental Microbiology has accepted the study, and the research paper will be published soon.

Chatterjee said,"Usually, transgenic crops are developed to fight plant diseases, and there are huge health safety concerns. The bio-control mechanisms like that, in this case, maybe an effective alternative,” Chatterjee said.

“In future, strategies to interfere with the iron availability or bacterial iron metabolism to minimise the production of disease-causing proteins in the bacteria may lead us to develop strategies to control and reduce the severity of different crop diseases caused by Xanthomonas group of bacteria,” he added.