Fungus can convince corn to stand up for itself

Published April 24, 2020

If you want to grow organ­ic corn, you can’t use chem­i­cal insec­ti­cides. (I mean, you can use chem­i­cals, but not ones that are made in a lab.) You have to fight insects and be able to call it “nat­ur­al.”

Anyway, Penn State researchers found a nifty new poten­tial tool: the com­mon Metarhizium robert­sii fungus.

It’s actu­al­ly kin­da cute and fuzzy.

What’s real­ly cool is that the fun­gus does­n’t fight preda­tors — it gets the corn to do it.

“We saw that col­o­niza­tion of corn plants by the fun­gus M. robert­sii pro­mot­ed plant growth and boost­ed the expres­sion of select­ed genes involved in plant defense in corn.”

Of course, just because the fun­gus is affect­ing the corn genes you can’t call it “GMO.” It’s nat­ur­al, after all.

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