New genetic engineering research from AFE funded researchers at North Carolina State University provides information about how to manage fungal diseases in eco-friendly ways, potentially increasing the postharvest life of cut flowers.
Although fungal pathogens, such as Botrytis, cause economically devastating diseases in nursery, field and greenhouse production of important floriculture crops, few genes have been found that are suitable for targeted breeding or engineering specific resistance.
This research is focused on expression of a naturally occurring plant resistance gene to produce plants with reduced production costs as well as lower maintenance requirements in the home.
Together with previous work, these results suggest that manntiol dehydrogenase (MTD) overexpression might be used to engineer a broad variety of plants for resistance to mannitol-secreting fungal pathogens like Botrytis for which specific resistance is lacking.
“Our work is particularly timely because, in addition to the normal difficulty and expense of controlling fungal diseases, the grower’s job is being complicated by the loss of existing chemicals for fungal control,” said John Williamson, Ph.D., associate professor and research leader. “This makes application of biotechnology an attractive approach, not only to produce resistant cultivars such as those reported here but also to provide information for targeted genetic screening of existing varieties.”
Williamson said that for the retailer and wholesaler, as well as the consumer, Botrytis resistance provides more robust, lower maintenance plants with longer lasting flowers.
More than 150 additional research reports are also available for free online.