Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Whitefly, tomato growers find truce in new Texas variety

06.12.2011
The whitefly in Texas may be sending up a surrender flag to tomato processors in the state thanks to a Texas AgriLife Research scientist developing a new variety that resists the virus spread by this pesky insect.

A 10-year battle against the insect all but wiped out the tomato industry in Texas, but the new tomato already is encouraging small processors to stay in business, according to Dr. Kevin Crosby, AgriLife Research vegetable breeder.

"We first saw this new virus around 2002 or so," Crosby said. "There were strains of this virus complex always in the Rio Grande Valley, but they weren't nearly as easily spread by the whitefly as this new strain that originated in the Middle East and then went from Florida to Mexico and then came to Texas.

"It spreads like wildfire. I've seen a 50-acre field just plowed under because they couldn't get a single tomato out of them. There are so many whiteflies down there in that subtropical region, you really can never completely eliminate whiteflies. You can't do it." Dr. Kevin Crosby

The researcher said tomato plants as young as three weeks old can be infected by the whiteflies, causing leaves to curl and turn yellow, ultimately killing the entire plant.

Tomato processing in the Rio Grande Valley pulled the plug rather than fight the prolific fly, industry officials said.

"Whiteflies just devastated the tomato industry here," said Buddy Ault, owner of Rio Valley Canning Co. in Donna. "At one time the Rio Grande Valley was producing about 40,000 acres of tomatoes until the whitefly came along. Acreage plunged. Then, about five years ago we noticed that plants were dying just when the fruit was about to mature. The leaves turned yellow and cut off nutrients to the fruit, causing tomatoes to stay green on the inside."

Growers first blamed the whitefly, then realized a virus carried by whitefly was to blame, Ault said.

"So, we asked Texas AgriLife Research about the possibility of developing an open-pollinated, virus-resistant variety," he said.

Help came from previous research conducted in Texas, aided by national and international vegetable breeding networks, Crosby said.

"Dr. Paul Leeper, who was a scientist at (AgriLife Research in) Weslaco for decades, did a lot of the early work on hot climate, processing tomatoes. As a result, he built a lot of very good varieties for the industry. In fact, his tomatoes at one point were the most popular tomatoes in tropical places because they could tolerate the heat," Crosby noted. "But we found out that they could not tolerate the new viruses that have been brought in by the whitefly."

Crosby called upon colleagues in Florida and Taiwan, who had identified tomato genes that provide resistance to the viral disease, in seeking plants to cross with the Texas varieties. He got a supply to test from Dr. Peter Hansen at the World Vegetable Research and Development Center in Taiwan, as well as from Dr. Jay Scott, a world-famous tomato breeder at the University of Florida.

"We were able to cross those lines with our Weslaco lines and generate material that was adapted to Texas and that had good processing qualities," Crosby said.

For now, the new variety called T-5 is being tested by some producers in the Rio Grande Valley and Crosby said the results are promising.

"Because it combines two distinct virus-resistance genes, resistance has been outstanding," he said.

"The new variety is impressive," said Ault, whose company cans a mixture of diced tomatoes and green peppers for H-E-B's Hill Country Fare label.

"We like the T-5 very much," he said. "It is highly productive, has good flavor, good color and is virus resistant. What we don't like about it is that it is an indeterminate variety, meaning not all the fruit sets and matures on the plant at the same time. As a processor, we prefer one that sets fruit all at the same time. But considering we had little to work with prior to the T-5, we're optimistic Dr. Crosby's good work will prevail."

Crosby plans to continue the virus-resistance research for the fresh tomato types and to develop varieties suited for growing in the different climate across the state.

"Growers of fresh market tomatoes are interested in our work because there's little to nothing in the vine-ripe class or heirloom-type cultivars, which are well-adapted to the heat and have the virus resistance," Crosby said.

Kathleen Phillips | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.tamu.edu

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht New gene for atrazine resistance identified in waterhemp
24.02.2017 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

nachricht Researchers discover a new link to fight billion-dollar threat to soybean production
14.02.2017 | University of Missouri-Columbia

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>