Title : PR 93-89 DISEASE RESISTANCE GENE CLONED FROM TOMATO PLANT
Type : Press Release
NSF Org: OD / LPA
Date : November 25, 1993
File : pr9389
Cheryl Dybas EMBARGOED UNTIL: 6 P.M.
(202) 357-9498 November 25, 1993
NSF PR 93-89
DISEASE RESISTANCE GENE CLONED FROM TOMATO PLANT
In the first instance in which a disease resistance gene has been
cloned from any plant, National Science Foundation-supported
researcher Greg Martin of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana,
has identified and cloned a gene that confers resistance to disease in
tomato plants. His research is funded by NSF's division of molecular and
cellular biology and is featured on the cover of the November 26 issue of
Plants resist invasion by pathogens, just as animals do. However,
some plants are more effective at resisting than others; this effectiveness
is genetically determined. Laboratory research has suggested that
disease resistance in plants is based upon interactions between specific
genes in the host plant and the pathogen. However, in spite of scientists'
efforts, little has been known about the specific genes encoded by the
The development of technology that allows genes to be cloned
based on knowledge of their location on a chromosome led to an intense
effort to clone a resistance gene from plants. Scientists believed that
isolation of this gene, and the ability to insert it into other plants, would
not only increase knowledge and understanding of disease resistance,
but would also enhance the ability to limit disease in commercially
important plants. All efforts had met with failure until Martin's research.
The National Science Foundation supported Martin as a Plant
Post-Doctoral Fellow for three years while he worked in the laboratory of
Steven Tanksley of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Martin
identified a gene responsible for resistance of the tomato plant to
bacterial infection by Pseudomonas bacteria. He has now cloned the
gene and demonstrated that it effectively prevents infection by inserting
the gene into tomato plants lacking the gene and then attempting to
infect them. NSF has awarded Martin a new three-year grant to continue
his studies characterizing the gene and analyzing its function. His
research is also supported by the Agricultural Research Service, U.S.
Department of Agriculture Plant Genome Program.
The National Science Foundation is an independent agency of the
federal government established in 1950 to promote and advance
scientific progress in the United States. NSF accomplishes its mission
primarily by competitively awarding grants to educational institutions for
research and education in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering.