Submitted to: International Society for Horticultural Science Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/16/2008
Publication Date: 9/1/2008
Citation: Scorza, R., Ravelonandro, M. 2008. The use of genetic engineering for the improvement of stone fruit virus resistance as a model case for the success and challenges of this technology in fruit tree species [abstract]. First International Symposium on Biotechnology of Fruit Species. p. 51. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Sharka disease caused by Plum pox virus (PPV) is the most important virus disease of stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, apricots, and cherries). Since the first report of PPV from Bulgaria in the early 20th century, the virus has invaded virtually the entire European continent and has been spreading worldwide to countries including the USA, Canada, China, Egypt, Chile, and many others. Millions of trees have been destroyed. Tree removal is the only means of controlling the disease. Resistant varieties are a critical need, but there are few sources of resistance in stone fruit genetic resources, and few resistant varieties have been produced nearly a century after discovering this disease. Recent advances in molecular biology and genetic engineering have allowed for the development of a genetically engineered (GE) plum highly resistant to PPV with almost 20 years of research, including a 10-year plus history of field tests documenting the effectiveness and safety of this new variety, 'HoneySweet'. Despite these results and the record of success and safety of GE virus resistant papaya and squash, regulatory and acceptance challenges to the approval and deployment of this plum remain. A timeline of research progress, regulatory submissions and approvals, and the road ahead will be presented. This will serve as an example to highlight the challenges facing the use of biotechnological approaches for the improvement of specialty crops at a time when these technologies are needed to face important problems such as climate change, population growth, environmental degradation, and the need for improved nutrition.