Saturday, 3 March 2012

Tomato varieties that outsmart the global warming

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: With climate change affecting important vegetable
crops, researchers from Kakatiya and Osmania Universities have
successfully developed tomato varieties that outsmart the global
warming and withstand the onslaught of various pests.

Climate change is turning semi arid areas into arid zones affecting
productivity of vegetable and fruit crops that are sensitive to
drought and pest stress. Using transgenic technology, researchers from
Kakatiya University, Warangal, have produced climate smart tomatoes
that can survive in drought conditions and in soils affected by

Mr N Rama Swamy of Kakatiya University teamed up with M Praveen of
Ohio State University, Ohio, USA, to develop salt tolerant tomato.
Thanks to persistent drought and indiscriminate use of chemical
fertilizers and pesticides, fields in many places have turned either
saline or alkaline. The climate change has only added to the problem,
affecting the over all production of horticultural crops.

They selected tomato because it is a model species for introduction of
agronomically important genes. It contains vitamin A, rich in vitamin
C and source for lycopene, which is the most powerful antioxidant that
could fight cancers. Though it has importance in the daily food, as
vegetable and medicine, the crop cannot be grown in drought prone areas.

The researchers induced salt tolerance in tomato after molecular
cloning. The tomato variety is capable of growing in saline and
drought prone areas.

In a separate research, a team comprising S Anil Kumar, P Hima Kumari
and PB Kavi Kishor from the department of genetics, Osmania
University, induced resistance in tomato to various fungal pathogens
through transgenic engineering. Tomatoes are usually attacked by
various fungal pathogens causing wilt and early blight. They used
Osmotin and Chitinase genes to make tomato resistant to pests. This
will reduce use of artificial pesticides. The borrowed genes from
bacterium, Agrobacterium tumefaciens.

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