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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 Science magazine. 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 host plant. 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. -end- 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.


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