Biotech Updates

Biotechnology Plays Key Role in Virus Disease Management, says Philippine Professor

March 23, 2012

Biotechnological approaches are essential for effective virus disease management in major crops in the Philippines, said University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) Associate Professor  Dr. Filomena Sta. Cruz, of  the Crop Protection Cluster, UPLB during her Centennial Professorial Lecture at the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) last March 20, 2012. "In terms of virus disease management, the biggest role of biotechnology is on variety development and on the identification, characterization, and diagnosis of virus diseases," said Dr. Sta. Cruz.

Some of the viruses that cause significant damages to major crops in the Philippines are the rice tungro virus, papaya ringspot virus, abaca bunchy top virus, and the tomato leaf curl virus. She explained that current management practices for virus diseases are not usually effective in the long term. "By nature, virus diseases are quite difficult to control. Once the plant is infected with the virus, it will remain infected throughout its growth. There are no anti-viral chemicals which can control or prevent systemic infection, and so that is the challenge for virus disease management," she said.

Dr. Sta. Cruz said that biotechnology is an answer to control virus diseases and that it should complement other conventional approaches. Among the feasible biotech approaches that may be applied to virus disease management are marker aided breeding (gene mapping and molecular marker development) for abaca and virus variability (genome sequencing and strain identification) in papaya.

For more information about the lecture, visit or e-mail