The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation selected the international research project "Transformative Strategy for Controlling Rice Disease in Developing Countries" for funding. The project is addressing a plant disease called “rice blight“ that affects rice harvest in many Southeast Asian countries, especially in India. The approach of the international research team is to make rice plants resistant to the bacterial pathogen Xanthomonas oryzae oryzae, which is causing the disease. Sugar transport mechanism, especially the transport proteins called SWEET play a major role in this project. The central idea is to let the pathogen starve by cutting its routes to the plants stored sugars.
The consortium is lead by Prof. Wolf B. Frommer (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf/Max-Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research) and includes partners from France, the US, Colombia and Philippines. The research project started on August 1st 2017 and will be funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the next 4 years.