PerspectivePlant Biology

To grow and to defend

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Science  07 Sep 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6406, pp. 976-977
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau9065

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Feeding an expanding world population while sustaining an inhabitable environment represents the greatest challenge of our time. To meet this challenge, the scientific conundrum of increasing crop yield while protecting it from evolving pathogens must be resolved. Rice (Oryza sativa) contributes the majority of dietary energy for more than half of the world's population. The most devastating pathogen of rice worldwide is the fungus Magnaporthe oryzae, the causal agent of rice blast, which results in an estimated yield loss of 30% globally. Therefore, controlling M. oryzae infection is a key battlefront for improving global rice production (1). On page 1026 of this issue, Wang et al. (2) identify a mechanism by which Ideal Plant Architecture 1 (IPA1), a transcription factor previously identified for conferring high yield, can also promote immunity against rice blast. This discovery provides a great addition to the toolbox for rational breeding of rice varieties with both high yield and high disease resistance.