St. Paul, MN (May 10, 2000)—"Plant biotechnology is a new way plant scientists can make plants healthier, optimize crop yields and minimize pesticide usage," says Dr. Julie Carroll, Cornell University and member of The American Phytopathological Society. "This technology has the potential to provide a wealth of beneficial plant traits, particularly an enhanced ability to withstand or resist attack by disease causing organisms such as fungi, bacteria and viruses."
With a steady increase in crop losses (up to 42% worldwide) caused by plant diseases, insects, and weeds, agricultural biotechnology provides new approaches for success in thwarting these menaces and feeding the world. The Economist (March 2000) reported a world population which grew by 90% in the last 40 years while food production rose only 25% per person. Plant biotechnology offers a new option for increasing food production by managing diseases, especially viral diseases which are often difficult or impossible to control by conventional methods.Carroll and her colleagues, G.A. Fermin-Munoz, B. Meng, K.Ko, S. Masumdar-Keighton, and A. Gubba, all at Cornell University, explain research efforts towards healthier plants in a special web feature, Biotechnology: A New Era for Plant Pathology and Plant Production, at www.apsnet.org/publications/apsnetfeatures/Pages/Biotechnology.aspx. They discuss four major areas of research.
One successful example is that of transgenic papaya resistance to papaya ringspot virus (PRSV). This virus causes severe damage to the papaya industry in a number of countries. Two transgenic papaya cultivars, Sunrise and Rainbow, were produced in hopes of curing this disease. "The use of these transgenic papaya cultivars saved the papaya industry in Hawaii form severe damage caused by PRSV," says Meng.
For more information about Plant Biotechnology, visit the APS May feature story at www.apsnet.org/publications/apsnetfeatures/Pages/Biotechnology.aspx. The American Phytopathological Society (APS) is a professional scientific organization dedicated to the study and control of plant disease with 5,000 members worldwide. For more information on APS, contact APS Headquarters at +1.651.454.7250 or by email