Crop Biotech Update

Filipino Researchers Develop Improved Eggplant Varieties Using Innovative Technologies

August 31, 2022
Field evaluation resistance trial of Solanum melongena (susceptible) and S. mammosum (highly resistant) against eggplant fruit and shoot borer and leaf hopper. Photo Source: IPB-CAFS, UPLB

Researchers at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) led by Dr. Lourdes D. Taylo are using innovative technologies to develop improved eggplant varieties that are resistant to eggplant fruit and shoot borer (EFSB) and leafhopper (LH). The multi-disciplinary team is using genomics, IT-based phenotyping platforms, molecular marker technologies, and new breeding techniques to fast-track this development.

Dr. Taylo of UPLB's Institute of Plant Breeding reported that the project is almost complete in its target to discover the natural defense mechanisms of wild eggplant accessions against EFSB and LH. The research team has mined and sequenced 10 genes and 10 promoters in two eggplant species, Solanum melongena and S. aethiopicum. The team has also identified two new defense genes against insect herbivory and genotyped 60 additional eggplant germplasm accessions with six simple-sequence repeat (SSR) markers. In addition, the researchers conducted field evaluations to morphologically assess the resistance of 30 eggplant entries against EFSB and LH damage.

The UPLB team of Dr. Val Randolf M. Madrid of the Institute of Computer Science developed the EFSB Motion Tracking Software, which can detect EFSB larva even when it is on top of an eggplant slice and can help track the feeding preference and larval movement of EFSB. Dr. Taylo and the research team are now working on the initial breeding activities of the project, including the selection of 20 accessions for the development of specialized mapping populations, the establishment of a direct organogenesis protocol, and the identification of target genes for CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing.

The government-funded project also characterized the Philippine populations of EFSB and LH using functional genomics. It mined single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and SSR markers from the genome and transcriptome sequences of EFSB and LH. The improved eggplant varieties are expected to help eggplant farmers increase their income through higher yield, lower input costs, and enhanced product quality.

For more details, read the DOST PCAARRD information dispatch.

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