Research Highlight

New model provides clues for fighting fungal disease in oilseeds 

doi:10.1038/nindia.2018.36 Published online 21 March 2018

Researchers have developed a model that has helped identify a key gene involved in generating defence responses of Brassica oilseed to a fungal disease1. This finding could potentially be used to devise ways to protect the oilseed against the fungal disease.

Brassica oilseeds, which are economically important crops, are vulnerable to a fungal disease that causes significant crop losses. However, researchers are yet to breed a disease-resistant variety of the oilseeds.

To find a way to cope with the fungal disease, scientists from the Govind Ballabh Pant Institute of Engineering & Technology in Uttarakhand, ICAR-Indian Agricultural Statistics Research Institute in New Delhi, G. B. Pant University of Agriculture & Technology in Pantnagar, all in India, devised a model that mimicked the host-pathogen interactions of the Brassica oilseed in the mouse-ear cress, a small plant in the mustard family.  

The model revealed that the fungal infections activated a vital gene known as COI1. This gene, in turn, regulated a hormone-mediated signalling pathway, triggering plant defence responses against the disease-causing fungi. The COI1 gene encodes a protein that acts as a receptor to this hormone, which is known to generate immune responses against pest and pathogen attacks.

The expression of COI1 also modulates the expression of various defence-related genes inside plant cells, providing protection to the oilseed against the pathogens.  

The results of this study will be useful in designing defence-inducing molecules that can protect the oilseed against fungi and other pathogens, opening avenues for sustainable agriculture, say the researchers.


1. Pathak, R. K. et al. Modeling of the jasmonate signaling pathway in Arabidopsis thaliana with respect to pathophysiology of Alternaria blight in BrassicaSci. Rep. 7: 16790 (2017)