Episode 6 - Just a Huge Distraction

Click to download. On the left, a normal banana plant infected with Xanthomonas, on the right, an infected plant that expresses Xa21 and is resistant.

In this episode, Kevin talks with Pamela Ronald, professor of plant pathology at the University of California, Davis. Almost 20 years ago, Ronald discovered Xa21, a plant pattern recognition receptor that guards against bacterial infection. This receptor shares many features with Toll-like receptors, and the role of Xa21 was shown a year before TLRs were implicated in immunity.

We also talk about recent work from Ronald's lab, in which bananas, a staple crop for millions of people in Africa, are genetically engineered to express Xa21 in order to protect them from a devastating bacterial infection.

 

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Links:

The paper: Transgenic expression of the rice Xa21 pattern-recognition receptor in banana (Musa sp.) confers resistance to Xanthomonas campestris pv. musacearum.

Pamela Ronald's home on the internet

Food Matters Blog

One of Kevin's Screeds about GMO's (there are many more - just ask!)