Hops helped make vast fortunes for farmers and brewers in New York state in the 19th century. Then, around 1910, a mildew blight ushered in their swift demise. There have been unsuccessful attempts to revive them ever since Prohibition ended in 1933.
Now, 14 biotech students at the State University of New York (SUNY) in Cobleskill are working to engineer fungus-resistant hop varietals native to New York, itching for a role in the revival of the state’s historic craft beer industry. The hope is to stave off another disease-borne calamity — or at least, make the local growing of heritage hops less of a hardship.
Once the hop calluses are ready, likely during the Winter semester, students will infect them with agrobacteria that will transfer DNA that contains a fungus-resistant gene. If all goes well, the students will analyze the modified plants this Spring to make sure the right genetic traits have been transferred, sow them in Cobleskill’s on-site hopyard, and grow them out.
The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Can Science Change The Mildewed Fortunes Of New York Heritage Hops?