Hyderabad, Jul 14 : Scientists from Dutch Research Company, KeyGene on Sunday claimed that they have successfully breed sweet pepper plants which have lost their susceptibility to ‘geminiviruses’.
Working in a partnership with leading vegetable breeding companies, Scientists from KeyGene have discovered sweet pepper plants which show a new type of insensitivity to a group of harmful pathogens: geminiviruses, the company claimed in a release here.
The new find is also described as a ‘loss of susceptibility’. This type of insensitivity to virus infections is expected to last longer than the commonly used ‘resistance’ approach.
The Scientists presented their findings at an international scientific conference held recently in Glasgow ( Scotland).
KeyGene aims to use this breakthrough to contribute to the sustainable cultivation of crops such as sweet and hot pepper, cotton and cassava, which currently require regular spraying against whitefly, the main disseminator of geminiviruses.
In addition to causing a loss of yield in various crops worldwide, geminiviruses was a key factor in the so-called ‘zero tolerance’ chemical approach to the whitefly and this insect can disseminate the virus so efficiently that only a small number can engender massive virus damage, the release said.
To breed crops that are sensitive to geminiviruses (such as sweet and hot pepper, cotton and cassava) in a more sustainable way and achieve good yield stability, crops with a resistance to the virus offer a smart and effective solution.
However, very few varieties with resistance against geminiviruses have been available to date and no resistance against the virus is available for breeding in crops such as sweet pepper, the release added.
A characteristic of resistant plants is their ability to defend themselves against viruses by recognising them. The genetic material of viruses can change easily, however, which may mean that the plant can no longer recognise the virus, and the resistance stops working.
While the traditional approach to tackling this problem involves introducing a new resistance by breeding with for instance wild relatives of a crop plant, such breeding programmes take many years, the release said.