Plant pathogens like the one that led to the notorious Irish Potato Famine of the 1840's are still the subject of intense research at institutions like the University of California Riverside, as the battle continues between mega-crop farmers and diseases that have learned to infiltrate the plant’s immune system. Just what the genetic mechanism is that allows for that infiltration has remained elusive until recently. Studying the notorious oomycete pathogen Phytophthora in its multiple forms, UC Riverside researchers have identified a crucial step in the disease attack of the cell, namely the activity of virulence proteins in blocking RNA silencing pathways, which leads to immune system compromise. The role of RNA silencing as an important immune component is a new research direction and one that is being pioneered at UCR.
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Tags: 2014, CA, 2013, University of California Riverside, genome research, Southwest, California, University of California, Plant science, BioResearch Product Faire Event, Funding, Riverside, NSF, Southwest Region, UCR
UC Riverside, once considered by some as the poor cousin to more established UC's, is now a thriving beehive of growth and activity in the areas of biomedicine and life science research. UC Riverside has always been strong in agriculture, business, and engineering; but UC Riverside had lacked the prestige that comes with being a medical training center, until now. With a new medical faculty, a new medical school, new buildings, and new research programs, UC Riverside is on its way to becoming a world class research institute in the medical science field; a title previously reserved for its rich cousin's in Southern and Northern California.
The University of California at Riverside is part of the Inland Empire, the geographic area just south and east of the Greater Los Angeles metro area and Orange County. As a member of the UC System, Riverside enjoys the advantage of being a part of the strongest public university system in the United States. Now UCR is making other collaborative ties, this time not statewise but more locally: by teaming up with Loma Linda University and Cal State San Bernardino to pool stem cell laboratory resources. The new regional entity will be known as the Inland Empire Stem Cell Consortium, and it will allow all three schools to qualify for increased federal funding in addition to the other benefits of joining forces.
A grant from the National Science Foundation has provided $4.8 million research funding for UC Riverside enabling researchers Susan R. Wessler, and Jason Stajich to investigate various rice cultivars using genome sequencing and seeing how these cultivars react to drought, disease, and flooding.
The rice plants are mutagenized with Transposable Elements (TE), which identify interesting characteristics within a particular strain and help locate specific elements causing a characteristic within that gene.
With the current severe weather and climate stresses on agriculture as a whole, this research is very timely, rice being one of the main global food staples . Additionally the funding will allow researchers to generate resources in the scientific community, enabling them to follow TE movement and find out how traits are determined by the insertion of a TE in a gene.
Feeding the world's populace now and in the future is a major concern of the US Food & Drug Administration. One way to increase the food supply is to eradicate diseases that ruin crops, and one of the most notorious of those diseases is late blight (of Irish Potato Famine infamy). UC Riverside's Howard Judelson has been studying the fungus-like microbe that attacks potatoes and tomatoes for the past 20 years, 17 of those at UCR in the school's Center for Plant Cell Biology (CePCeB) as a plant pathologist. Though competition was fierce for the FDA funding, Judelson was chosen to lead a nationwide team of researchers in a $9Million project to find a way to control the disease. Of the $9M awarded, $4.3M is budgeted wholly to UCR. Also on the team from CePCeB to sequence Phytophthora infestans is plant bioinformatics researcher Thomas Girke.
UC Riverside proudly announced the progress of its future medical school at a ceremony March 18 celebrating the completion of the research building. The $36 Million research facility boasts 58,000 square feet and has won the LEED Silver designation for its green design: it will use only a third the energy of a typical lab. But the real accomplishment of the new medical school will have less to do with its architecture and more to do with its purpose and vision.