Researchers at Plant Research International in the Netherlands have achieved a breakthrough in the development of chrysanthemums with resistance to thrips, bringing the ecological cultivation of chrysanthemums a step closer. This is the conclusion of the thesis with which Seetharam Annadana, a Plant Research International guest member of staff from India, recently obtained his doctorate at Wageningen University. Annadana developed new techniques which make possible the genetic modification of two thirds of the available varieties of chrysanthemum. In addition, he identified better so-called promoters: genetic switches to ensure that the genes incorporated into the chrysanthemums will be sufficiently active.
With his thesis, Annadana has laid the grounds for effective genetic modification of the chrysanthemum. Researchers hope to develop chrysanthemums resistant to insects with the help of this technology. Being a major pest, thrips is generally regarded to be the main factor impeding the ecological production of chrysanthemums.
At present, the damage caused by thrips can only be adequately prevented using chemical pesticides. Consequently, various ecological practices cannot be applied, such as the use of certain biological control systems. The development of thrips-resistant chrysanthemums would entail using far less chemical pesticide, or even none at all.
Erik Toussaint | alphagalileo
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