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Posts Tagged: Pamela Ronald

Scientists unravel mystery of disease resistance

Even though it's been about 1 billion years since plants and animals parted ways from their common ancestor, scientists have learned that over the eons they developed similar mechanisms for detecting microbial invasions and resisting disease, according to a study published in the journal Science.

The article, written by UC Davis plant pathologist Pamela Ronald and Scripps Research Institute mammal geneticist Bruce Beutler, describes how researchers used common approaches to tease apart the secrets of immunity in species ranging from fruit flies to rice. It also forecasts where future research will lead, said a UC Davis news release.

News about the scientific discovery was picked up widely by medical and scientific websites and blogs, including

“We now know that plants and animals respond to microbial signature molecules using analogous regulatory modules, which likely came about as a consequence of convergent evolution,” Technology Today quotes Ronald.

Medical Daily noted that the discovery will likely help future researchers find new drug targets to control deadly bacteria for which there are currently no effective treatments.

The paper in Science is dedicated to Julius Rothstein (1830-1899) and his wife, Fanny Rothstein née Frank (1834-1911), the great, great grandparents and last common ancestors of the authors.

The lineages of humans and mice diverged 60-120 million years ago.
The lineages of humans and mice diverged 60-120 million years ago.

Posted on Tuesday, November 23, 2010 at 8:17 AM

Ag must adjust as population grows and world warms

With the world facing serious challenges - like global warming, diminishing fresh water supplies and population growth - there is a critical need for people to get beyond biases against the use of agricultural biotechnology, according to a group of prestigious scientists that includes UC Davis plant pathologist Pamela Ronald.

This admonition was part of a perspective piece published in the Feb. 12 issue of the journal Science. The authors also said there is an increasing need for development of farming systems that use saline water and integrate nutrient flows.

In the Science article, the researchers noted that crop reductions related to global climate change are already apparent. For example, a 2003 heat wave in Europe, which caused a 3.5-degree rise in the average summer temperature, killed 30,000 to 50,000 people and resulted in a 20 to 36 percent decrease in the yields of grains and fruit that summer.

"That dramatic drop in yield is just a foreshadowing of the challenges that lie ahead for agriculture during the 21st century, as temperatures rise and another 3 billion people are added to the global population," Ronald was quoted in a UC Davis news release about the journal article.

Ronald believes global warming will change the pattern of plant diseases and cause intense, periodic flooding.

"The good news is that we have the ability, through conventional breeding and genetic engineering, to generate new varieties of our existing food crops that can better adapt to these environmental changes," Ronald was quoted.

Pamela Ronald
Pamela Ronald

Posted on Friday, February 12, 2010 at 8:10 AM

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