Helping Feed the World: NCSU Lab To Assist in Rice Disease Project

Fungal Genomics Laboratory to work with Agilent on rice genome array project. Goal is to combat “rice blast” fungus.NCSU’s Fungal Genomics Laboratory, which has mapped the rice genome, has signed an agreement with Agilent Technologies to cooperate on research into so-called “rice blast” disease. The disease is considered a major threat to world food supplies.

Agilent will use gene sequence information from NCSU’s lab to develop a microarray, or gene expression analysis tool, that can in turn be used by researchers worldwide.

Rice blast is a fungus that destroys enough rice in a year to feed 60 million people, according to Agilent.

“The goal of our research is to use the natural host resistance already present in some strains of rice as a defense against the rice blast pathogen,” said Ralph Dean, professor of plant pathology and director of the NCSU lab. “We believe this new microarray will be of significant interest to the international agricultural community and are pleased to collaborate with Agilent in its development.”

Agilent (NYSE: A), which had $6 billion in revenue in 2002, focuses on communications, electronics, life sciences and chemical analysis.