Transgenics once saved Hawai‘i’s papaya industry from devastation caused by the papaya ringspot virus. With a new grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), CTAHR researchers will pursue genetic research into new varieties that are disease resistant, highly nutritious, and consumer friendly.
Papaya is an economically and nutritionally important crop in the tropics. It’s also used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and food processing. However, “papaya production is facing severe challenges caused by various diseases, such as Phytophthora blight, papaya ringspot virus, anthracnose, and powdery mildew,” says Miaoying Tian, Dept. of Plant and Environmental Sciences. “CRISPR-mediated genome editing will allow us to breed new varieties that are free of foreign DNA.”
To support the expansion of this technology, NIFA has announced 12 new grants for “Agricultural Innovations Through Gene Editing.” Miaoying and David Christopher, Dept. of Molecular Biology and Biosciences, will direct their research toward developing systems for successful genome editing in papaya.
“The completion of this project,” says Miaoying, “will enable functional analyses of papaya genes and breeding transgene-free new papaya varieties with desirable traits, such as disease resistance and enhanced nutrients, benefiting papaya growers in Hawai‘i and elsewhere.”
Read the full grant for Genome editing of papaya for functional analysis, metabolic engineering and crop improvement.