JERUSALEM, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- Israeli researchers found an effective non-toxic method to prevent the fungal gray mold disease, which harms a wide variety of crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers and strawberries, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem said on Monday.
The researchers say the new targeted pest control ability against the fungus that causes gray mold will lead to an increase in crops, and a decrease in the use of toxic pesticides for the benefit of the environment, farmers and consumers.
Plants and pathogens which cause diseases are in a constant "arms race" between them. Pathogens are constantly perfecting their ability to attack, while plants are improving their ability to protect themselves.
One of the plant's defense mechanisms is the accumulation of toxic substances, and in response the pathogens develop mechanisms to overcome these toxic substances.
In the new study, published in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers discovered a toxin-removing mechanism in Botrytis cinerea, one of the most harmful and common fungi, which causes gray mold.
This mechanism includes a unique one-way transporter, which is activated during the plant attack and helps the fungus to release toxic plant substances from its body.
The researchers were also able to damage the fungal toxin mechanism. This impaired the fungus's ability to remove the toxic substances from its body and thus diminished its ability to attack the plant.