This paper reports on the successful transfer of a key disease-resistance gene from maize into rice, demonstrating the feasibility of gene transfer between distantly related grasses. The technique has important implications for introducing resistance to diseases in crops with no inherited resistance.

It is important in that it reveals how a single gene can influence resistance to unrelated disease-causing microbes. The gene in question, called Rxo1, controls resistance to bacterial streak disease in rice, as well as bacterial stripe disease in sorghum and maize.

This work is of interest to companies and academic researchers working on diseases of cereal crops, and to policy-makers and research managers because of its implications for the development of disease resistance in some of the world’s major food crops. Overall, it offers an interesting insight into a potentially valuable avenue of research.