Biotech Updates

INRA Researchers Identify New Aphid Resistance Gene

June 18, 2009

Scientists at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) have identified a novel gene that confers resistance against the dreaded melon or cotton aphid Aphis gossypii. The aphid has emerged as a major problem of farmers growing cucurbits, tomato and citrus trees. Melon aphids damage plants by injecting their needle-like mouthpart into a plant's leaves and extracting sap. Aphids are also the most common vector of plant viruses.

The researchers identified the resistance gene, which they called Vat (virus aphid transmission resistance), in melon lines originating from India. The gene confers a double resistance phenotype: resistance to aphid infestation and resistance to viral transmission. The Vat locus has been successfully introduced to high-yielding commercial melon cultivars. The INRA researchers, led by Catherine Dogimont, now plan to introduce the gene to cotton, cucumber and other plant species susceptible to the aphid. They are also looking for orthologues of the Vat gene in species other than melon.

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