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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: GENETIC IMPROVEMENT OF FRUIT CROPS THROUGH FUNCTIONAL GENOMICS AND BREEDING Title: Protecting trees against virus diseases in the 21st century: genetic engineering of Plum pox virus resistance - from concept to product

Authors
item Scorza, Ralph
item Callahan, Ann
item Dardick, Christopher
item Ravelonandro, Michel -
item Polak, Jaroslav -
item Malinowski, Tadeusz -
item Zagrai, Ioan -
item Cambra, Mariano -
item Kamenova, Ivanka -

Submitted to: Plant Cell Tissue And Organ Culture
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: May 29, 2013
Publication Date: June 12, 2013
Citation: Scorza, R., Callahan, A.M., Dardick, C.D., Ravelonandro, M., Polak, J., Malinowski, T., Zagrai, I., Cambra, M., Kamenova, I. 2013. Protecting trees against virus diseases in the 21st century: genetic engineering of Plum pox virus resistance - from concept to product. Plant Cell Tissue And Organ Culture. 115:1-12.

Technical Abstract: Sharka disease, caused by Plum pox virus (PPV), was first recorded in Bulgaria during the early twentieth century. Since that first report, the disease has progressively spread throughout Europe where it has infected over 100 million stone fruit trees. From Europe, sharka disease spread to Asia, Africa, and North and South America. Control measures such as quarantine and eradication of infected trees measures difficult to adequately apply, have proved to be insufficient to stop the continuous spread of PPV, and today, many countries practice coexistence with the disease in spite of significant crop losses. Despite the progress made on PPV research in the last 10-15 years, PPV continues to spread world-wide and new approaches are necessary to reduce its impact on fruit production. Because few PPV resistance genes have been found to naturally occur in Prunus, genetic engineering has been used to produce a plum cultivar, ‘HoneySweet’, that is protected against PPV infection. This protection is based on RNA interference (RNAi) and has been shown to be highly effective, stable, and durable. In addition to the potential importance of a new plum variety highly resistant to PPV, ‘HoneySweet’ resistance is heritable as a single locus dominant trait and resistant seedlings can be readily selected. This makes ‘HoneySweet’ a useful parent in breeding programs to rapidly select new resistant types. Extensive testing and risk assessment of ‘HoneySweet’ in laboratory, greenhouse, and in the field for over 20 years has demonstrated not only the effectiveness but also the safety of the technology. ‘HoneySweet’ has been cleared for cultivation in the U.S.A. by the appropriate regulatory agencies. The development and regulatory approval of ‘HoneySweet’ demonstrate the ability of RNAi technology to contribute to the sustainability of stone fruit production in regions impacted by PPV. Although it has taken almost 100 years since the identification of sharka, we are now able, through the application of GE, to completely protect stone fruit species against this disease.

Last Modified: 10/24/2014
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