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Crop Biotech Update

Researchers Produce Library of Onion Traits for Global Food Security

August 5, 2011

Dr. Andrew Taylor, a scientist at the University of Warwick's School of Life Sciences, has developed a unique set of information regarding the disease resistance of 96 onion varieties from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, India, the U.S., and Japan. The data can be used by breeders to produce onion varieties that can resist Fusarium oxysporum which causes basal rot in onions, and at the same time respond well with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, which is beneficial to onions. This improved interaction would aid in nutrient uptake of onions, thus decreasing the amount of fertilizer needed. The beneficial fungi also have the potential to increase disease resistance and drought tolerance.

This research funded by the United Kingdom's Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) will contribute significantly to global food security, especially in areas experiencing high temperature because basal rot fungi is more active in those areas.

A Defra spokesperson said that "this important research shows how farmers can farm smarter – producing crops that are naturally resistant to rot and disease can help them reduce the amount of fertilizer and pesticides they need in our changing climate."

Read the news release at http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/research_helps_breeders.