Disease-resistant GMO tomatoes, strawberries and citrus in the pipeline

Bacterial spots
A tomato infected with bacterial spot disease (Image credit: Missouri Botanical Garden)
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

As increasing numbers of genetically engineered crops become available for commercial markets, scientists are industriously working to develop the next big biotech traits that will help agricultural producers.


Bacterial spot disease has plagued pepper and tomato fields worldwide. … Plant breeders have identified the Bs2 gene from pepper as the key to genetic resistance. Bs2 tomatoes have been developed, containing the gene from pepper so that they present the same resistance traits.

In multi-year experiments, Bs2 tomatoes have exhibited extremely low levels of disease symptoms when compared with susceptible controls.


In just 10 years of battling huanglongbing (HLB), Florida’s citrus industry has lost nearly half of its $1.5 billion on-tree fruit value. … Using biotechnology, plant breeders have been able to cut the time it takes to ensure that a new tree possesses resistance genetics.


Plant breeders are able to use the same principles of citrus SAR [systemic acquired resistance] in other crops, including strawberries. Strawberries are afflicted by a variety of bacterial and fungal pathogens, such as anthracnose crown rot, powdery mildew and angular leaf spot. In addition to studying the resistance that expression of AtNPR1 provides strawberries, the potential of other Arabidopsis-derived genes is being evaluated as well.

Editor’s note: Anne Schwartz studies plant science at the University of Florida

Read full, original post: The Next Big Biotech Traits

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