Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences
Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Hawaii
USDA-ARS Pacific Basin Research Center
Department of Plant Pathology, NYS Agricultural Research Station, Cornell University
Since 1992, Papaya ringspot virus (PRSV) destroyed nearly all of the papaya hectarage in the Puna district of Hawaii, where 95% of Hawaii's papayas are grown. Two field trials to evaluate transgenic resistance (TR) were established in Puna in October 1995. One trial included the following: SunUp, a newly named homozygous transformant of Sunset; Rainbow, a hybrid of SunUp, the nontransgenic Kapoho cultivar widely grown in Puna, and 63-1, another segregating transgenic line of Sunset. The second trial was a 0.4-ha block of Rainbow, simulating a near-commercial planting. Both trials were installed within a matrix of Sunrise, a PRSV-susceptible sibling line of Sunset. The matrix served to contain and trace pollen flow from TR plants, and as a secondary inoculum source. Virus infection was first observed 3.5 months after planting. At a year, 100% of the non-TR control and 91% of the matrix plants were infected, while PRSV infection was not observed on any of the TR plants. Fruit production data of SunUp and Rainbow show that yields were at least three times higher than the industry average, while maintaining percent soluble solids above the minimum of 11% required for commercial fruit. These data suggest that transgenic SunUp and Rainbow, homozygous and hemizygous for the coat protein transgene, respectively, offer a good solution to the PRSV problem in Hawaii.