Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Related Topics

Research Project: Adding Value and Controlling Pests and Diseases of Papaya

Location: Tropical Crop and Commodity Protection Research

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Develop and evaluate non-toxic, preferably biologically-based, environmentally suitable technologies and processes for pest and disease control on papaya. Evaluate existing, or breeding new, papaya varieties for desirable fruit quality and shelf life and for high degree of tolerance or resistance to fungal diseases, such as Phytophthora.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
A research team consisting of faculty and researchers from the University of Hawaii(UH) and Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center (PBARC) with expertise in papaya breeding, plant protection (particularly in plant pathology), and genetic engineering will develop an achievable and measurable action plan to accomplish the objectives identified above. The team shall share research responsibilities in papaya breeding, evaluating tolerance or resistance against fungal diseases and papaya ringspot virus, and studying the shelf life of papaya varieties evaluated or bred.


3.Progress Report:

The goal of this project is to develop and evaluate non-toxic, biologically-based, environmentally suitable technologies for pest and disease control of papaya. This goal is linked to objectives 3 and 4 of the parent project, "Improve attractants and trapping systems for surveillance, detection, and control of fruit flies and/or other tropical plant pests of quarantine significance", and "Assess the efficacy and quality of laboratory-reared insects used in SIT and natural enemies for control of fruit flies and other tropical plant pests of quarantine significance, and determine factors limiting their effectiveness".

From late 2011 onwards with fruit available from the Poamoho Research Station and from a local grower, we have continued research on the use of microbial antagonists to reduce the incidence of postharvest diseases of papaya, especially anthracnose. The objective was to enhance the effectiveness of the response by coupling our selected yeast (#581) with various fruit coatings reported to reduce postharvest diseases in other fruit such as apples. In previous studies, we had noted that the yeast was most effective in controlling Anthracnose when applied days after fungi inoculation. In the current year, Gum Arabic was applied after fungus inoculation, with and without yeast #581. A coating of 2% Gum Arabic alone showed a similar inhibitory effect on Anthracnose development as yeast #581, when applied on inoculated papaya five days later in storage. Coating papaya with Gum Arabic containing yeast culture reduced disease incidence and severity to a quarter of that in the controls. A 2% weight to volume (w/v) concentration was most effective. Using the on-line resource BLAST2GO, we have generated functional annotations of all the predicted papaya genes for which there are predicted functions. This annotation includes Gene Ontology (GO), Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway maps, InterPro and Enzyme Codes. This database will enable us to analyze the gene expression data during fruit ripening that we are now generating. We have focused throughout this reporting period on characterizing the ripening characteristic of the lines selected out of the QTL softening segregation study. In addition, crosses have been made between the slow-ripening line and the virus resistant line “SunUp” to develop a homozygous virus resistant slow ripening line. All the F-1 generated from “SunUp” as the female pollinated with 4-16 pollen were Gus positive though fruit firmness was similar to “SunUp”. However, when “4-16” was the female parent only 50% of the F-1 papaya contained virus resistance genes (Gus positive) and the fruit showed ripening pattern and firmness similar to “4-16." Selections have been made in these cross after confirming that did contain the transgene for virus resistance. Trees with low summer sterility and slow ripening characteristic have been used as a screening criterion. If our approach is successful, the timing and degree of fruit softening can be more closely controlled to suit market needs. Controlling ripening will extend shelf life and improve market ability and enlarge the geographic area of distribution.


Last Modified: 12/19/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page