Gene Gun Blasts New Genes into GarlicBy
Garlic plants with traits new to this crop may dot future home and
commercial gardens if Agricultural
Research Service scientists succeed in applying a system they
developed to transfer genes.
ARS scientists have taken the first step toward this goal by
applying molecular tools developed for transferring genetic traits in
other crops, such as corn. Theyve transferred marker genes via a
blast from a gene gun.
In their experiments, they moved bacterial genes into garlic. But
these genes that only serve as markers to let the researchers know the
gene transfer method succeeded.
The next step: insert useful genes for traits like virus resistance.
This could provide long-term protection against disease in future
generations of the crop. For example, each year, onion yellow dwarf
virus reduces garlic yields of infected plants by 30 to 50 percent,
representing a serious economic loss for garlic growers around the
Although the disease was first found in onions, it actually causes
more loss to garlic. The disease produces thin, yellow leaves. Garlic
is totally susceptible to damage from this virus, which is transmitted
ARS scientists say this preliminary work is a first step to
introducing useful new traits, such as virus resistance, in garlic and
Scientific contact: Philipp W. Simon,
Crops Research, Madison, Wis., phone (608) 262-1248 or (608)
264-5406, fax (608) 262-4743,