The durable wheat disease resistance gene Lr34 confers common rust and northern corn leaf blight resistance in maize

Justine Sucher, Rainer Boni, Ping Yang, Peter Rogowsky, Heike Büchner, Christine Kastner, Jochen Kumlehn, Simon G. Krattinger*, Beat Keller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Maize (corn) is one of the most widely grown cereal crops globally. Fungal diseases of maize cause significant economic damage by reducing maize yields and by increasing input costs for disease management. The most sustainable control of maize diseases is through the release and planting of maize cultivars with durable disease resistance. The wheat gene Lr34 provides durable and partial field resistance against multiple fungal diseases of wheat, including three wheat rust pathogens and wheat powdery mildew. Because of its unique qualities, Lr34 became a cornerstone in many wheat disease resistance programmes. The Lr34 resistance is encoded by a rare variant of an ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter that evolved after wheat domestication. An Lr34-like disease resistance phenotype has not been reported in other cereal species, including maize. Here, we transformed the Lr34 resistance gene into the maize hybrid Hi-II. Lr34-expressing maize plants showed increased resistance against the biotrophic fungal disease common rust and the hemi-biotrophic disease northern corn leaf blight. Furthermore, the Lr34-expressing maize plants developed a late leaf tip necrosis phenotype, without negative impact on plant growth. With this and previous reports, it could be shown that Lr34 is effective against various biotrophic and hemi-biotrophic diseases that collectively parasitize all major cereal crop species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-496
Number of pages8
JournalPlant Biotechnology Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Dr. Harald Keunecke from KWS, Einbeck, Germany, for providing the common rust (Puccinia sorghi) isolate. We also want to acknowledge Dr. Susanne Dreisigacker from CIMMYT, Mexico, for providing leaf material of the different Tripsacum species. We thank Thomas Widiez and Jérôme Laplaige from ENS Lyon, France, for the Lr34 maize propagation. We are thankful to Petra Hoffmeister, from IPK Gatersleben, as well as Geri Herren and Linda Luethi, from UZH Switzerland, for their valuable technical support. The work was supported by an advanced investigator grant of the European Research Concil (ERC-2009-AdG 249996, Durableresistance) and the Swiss National Science Foundation grant 31003B-144081/1. S.G.K. is supported by an Ambizione grant of the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Authors. Plant Biotechnology Journal published by Society for Experimental Biology and The Association of Applied Biologists and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • Lr34/Yr18/Sr57/Pm38
  • Maize
  • common rust
  • durable disease resistance
  • fungal pathogens
  • northern corn leaf blight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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