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GMO-FREE REGIONS & PRODUCTS: Dutch researcher bred non-GEfungi-resistant tomato

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Research on grey mould offers possible breakthrough in tomato
SOURCE: Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, The Netherlands
AUTHOR: Press Release
DATE:   30 March 2007

Research on grey mould offers possible breakthrough in tomato cultivation

Tomato growers are likely to soon be able to cultivate new tomato
varieties without having to use pesticides against grey mould (Botrytis
cinerea). This is the conclusion of the STW-sponsored thesis by Richard
Finkers from Wageningen University, with which he hopes to earn his
doctorate on 3 April 2007. Finkers designed highly efficient methods
whereby tomato varieties can be resistant to grey mould. The leading
company De Ruiter Seeds is already applying these methods in its
breeding programme.

Finkers started off with wild tomato accessions that were resistant to
grey mould. When crossing the resistant wild tomato Solanum habrochaites
LYC4 with the susceptible S. lycopersicum cv. Moneymaker, he identified
two areas with resistant genes in the DNA.

This, however, did not explain all the variations in resistance. With
this in mind, Finkers next made a step-by-step scan of the entire genome
of the wild tomato to identify locations that have an effect on
resistance. Ten areas were found that accommodated resistance factors
against grey mould. DNA-markers were then developed for each area to be
able to track the presence of each resistance factor in breeding programmes.

Resistant tomatoes for sale

With help of the DNA-markers, the identified areas can now be
intentionally introgressed in the breeding programmes of De Ruiter
Seeds, a Dutch company with a global reputation in the field. Using the
DNA-markers, it expects to market new tomatoes that are resistant to
grey mould in the near future. The new varieties will mean tomato
growers will have to devote far less resources - or perhaps none at all
- to combating B. cinerea.

An additional benefit of these new tomatoes is that they will be more
suitable for closed glasshouse cultivation. This new type of glasshouse
has a higher atmospheric humidity that actually increases the chance of
grey mould activity. By providing tomato varieties resistant to grey
mould, De Ruiter Seeds will fill a worldwide need that has long been around.

The research was partly financed by STW (the Technology and Sciences
Association) and De Ruiter Seeds. As the developed knowledge obtained
from this research has been patented, and therefore both protected and
made accessible.

Doctorate: 3 April 2007, Wageningen University, Plant Sciences Plant
Breeding and Phytopathology. For more information
contact: Richard Finkers, +31 (0)317 48 41 65,
Tutor: prof dr. R.G.F. Visser. Co-tutors: Dr. J.A.L. van Kan and Dr.
A.W. van Heusden.

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