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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Molecular Resources for the Improvement of Tropical Ornamental and Fruit Crops

Location: Tropical Plant Genetic Resources and Disease Research

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Objective 1: Develop and assess transgenic plants to control plant growth and development, disease resistance, and shelf life. [NP 301, C1, PS 1A and NP 301, C3, PS, 3A]

Sub-objective 1a: Screen and select transgenic and/or non-transgenic anthuriums for resistance/tolerance to bacterial blight. Sub-objective 1b: Develop and evaluate an improved screening method for determining resistance and tolerance to burrowing nematodes in anthurium. Sub-objective 1c: Develop and screen transgenic anthurium lines with improved gene constructs for resistance/tolerance to bacterial blight and burrowing nematodes. Sub-objective 1d: Develop management options to control flowering of pineapple under Hawaii conditions. Sub-objective 1e: Obtain PRSV-resistant Hawaiian papaya that have reduced amount of fruit blemishes through recurrent selection.

Objective 2: Identify genes or genetic elements useful for improving horticulturally and commercially important traits in floral crops. [NP 301, C3, PS 3A]

Sub-objective 2a: Identification of pathways and molecular components for floral color improvement of anthurium.

Objective 3: Improve horticultural characteristics and cultivation practices of subtropical and tropical crops. [NP 305, C1, PS 1B1]

Sub-objective 3a: Develop improved practices for coffee production to mitigate the damage of coffee berry borer (CBB). Sub-objective 3b: Develop improved practices for coffee production that will serve as an industry model. Sub-objective 3c: Develop improved practices for sustainable, tropical/subtropical, diversified crop production that will serve as an industry model for zero waste.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
1) Use genetic engineering to develop anthurium that are resistant or tolerant to bacterial blight and nematode pests. Vegetatively propagate the best lines and initiate a large screening trial of the few selected bacterial tolerant lines in a cinder bed trial to simulate commercial conditions. Evaluate the impact of plant resistance or tolerance on the nematode (reproduction) and the impact of the nematode on the plant (flower yield, plant growth). Develop new screening methods for long term yield evaluations. Develop transformation protocols in house (PBARC) and use new antimicrobial peptides for bacterial resistance and a combination of cystatin and plant proteinase inhibitors for nematode resistance; optimize for expression in monocots/anthuriums..
2)Use genetic engineering to develop pineapple that are resistant to natural flowering. Develop a robust transformation system and a realistic and effective screening regime for natural flowering..
3)Develop color enhanced cultivars of anthurium through the identification of key pigment pathways and subsequent genetic engineering for transferring the traits. Develop more comprehensive molecular biological and biochemical tools to fill the information gap required for supporting improvement of other commercially important traits and a cooperative resource for cultivar development with the University of Hawaii and industry growers..
4)Mitigate the impact of coffee berry borer through effective use of a biological control agent (Beauveria bassiana). Determine viability and persistence of Beauveria spores on coffee cherries, measure Beauveria infection rates in infested coffee berries and monitor infestation levels from field counts of CBB-infested and uninfested coffee berries..
5)Mitigate the impact of coffee berry borer by using plant hormones to synchronize coffee flowering. Define a method to time flowering and “schedule” harvesting for efficient distribution of labor for hand harvested areas and optimize flowering to one or two major flowering times for mechanically harvested areas..
6)Develop virus resistant Hawaiian solo papaya with blemish-free fruit through recurrent selection. Evaluate fruit and either backcross or self lines to increase freckle free phenotype; select fruits with the lowest amount of freckles, desirable fruit shape, high total soluble sugars and good fruit quality. Determine shipping longevity of freckle free fruit.


3.Progress Report:
This report documents progress for this new project which started May 31, 2013, and continues the research from 5320-21000-013-00D, "Molecular Resources for the Improvement of Tropical Ornamental and Fruit Crops". Progress has been made on all three of the objectives which fall under National Program 301, Component 1: Crop Genetic Improvement, Problem Statement 1A: Superior New Crops, Varieties and Enhanced Germplasm; Component 1: Crop Genetic Improvement, Problem Statement 1B1: Develop Integrated Strategies for the Management of Pests and Environmental Factors that Impact Yield, Quality, and Profitability of Perennial Crops; Component 3: Crop Biology and Molecular Processes, Problem Statement 3A: Functional Knowledge of Plant Biological and Molecular Processes. Under Objective 1, bacterial blight tolerant anthurium lines have been cloned and are being multiplied for field trials. Under Objective 2, a new accessioned Anthurium species from The New York Botanical Garden is being acquired. Under Objective 3, new field trials utilizing growth regulators for coffee flower synchronization and Botanigard to mitigate damage caused by the Coffee borer beetle (CBB) have been initiated.


Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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