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[nafex] FW: Virus-Resistant Plum Trees

From: "ARS News Service" <isnv@ars-grin.gov>
To: "ARS News List" <ars-news@ars-grin.gov>
Subject: Virus-Resistant Plum Trees
Date: Mon, Sep 17, 2001, 6:59 AM

Virus-Resistant Plum Trees--Ready and Waiting


ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
Judy McBride, (301) 504-1628, jmcbride@ars.usda.gov
September 17, 2001

Three plum trees standing in Agricultural Research Service orchards could
help prevent a nasty fruit virus from becoming established in the United
States as it is in Europe and elsewhere.

The trees--simply dubbed "C5"--are virtually immune to all major strains of
plum pox virus. Also known as sharka, plum pox virus deforms or blemishes
plums, peaches, apricots and almonds, making the fruit unmarketable.

C5 was developed by ARS horticulturist Ralph Scorza. It looks very similar
to its female parent, Bluebyrd, a commercial cultivar developed by Scorza
through traditional breeding. And its fruit tastes the same. The difference
is that C5 was given a gene that prevents plum pox virus from multiplying.

First discovered in Adams County, Pa., nearly two years ago, plum pox
recently surfaced in two more Pennsylvania counties--York and Cumberland.
Fortunately, the Pennsylvania strain of the virus is less aggressive than
other strains found in Europe.

That could buy some time for the ARS-developed tree to reach the market.
Because C5 was genetically engineered, ARS technology transfer specialists
can't say when it will be available for commercial use. It will have to pass
a strict regulatory process for genetically modified organisms. Moreover,
the pieces of DNA, as well as the techniques required to make them work, are
all from different sources, and several are patented.

That's why ARS filed a patent on C5 this month--to encourage a partner to
pull all these threads together toward commercialization, according to an
ARS patent advisor.

Michel Ravelonandro at INRA, the French counterpart of ARS, provided the
plum-pox-resistance gene. Dennis Gonsalves at Cornell University in Geneva,
N.Y., provided a souped-up vector--an Agrobacterium--for inserting the gene.

An article on ARS plum pox research is in the September issue of
Agricultural Research magazine online at:

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's principal scientific research

This item is one of the news releases and story leads that ARS Information
distributes on weekdays to fax and e-mail subscribers. You can also get the
latest ARS news on the World Wide Web at
* Feedback and questions to ARS News Service via e-mail: isjd@ars-grin.gov.
* ARS Information Staff, 5601 Sunnyside Ave., Room 1-2251, Beltsville MD
20705-5128, (301) 504-1617, fax 504-1648.

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