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Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas L.) Regeneration and Transformation Technology to Provide Weevil (Cylas formicarius) Resistance – Field Trial Results

Although sweet potato is one of the most important plants around the world (FAO, 1989),
biotechnological work on it has lagged behind. In the last years few groups have reported their
experiences in sweet potato molecular biology manipulation to increase its nutritional quality
(L6pez et al., 1996) and to give it pest resistance (Newel et al., 1995). Others have been
working on protoplast isolation and regeneration (Sihachakr and Ducreux, 1987), and
regeneration and transformation from roots, petioles, stems and leaves (Carswell and Locy,
1984; Gosukonda et al., 1995). It has been established that one of the most important factors
affecting the evolution of the in vitro culture, regeneration and transformation responses of
sweet potato is the genotype worked on (Gosukonda et al., 1995).
The sweet potato weevil (Cylas spp.) is the major biological antagonist of sweet potato
worldwide. The improved cultivars delivered by traditional breeding do not show a stable
performance for different ecological conditions; most of them depend on soil structure or the
physiological and botanical features of the cultivar rather than on the genetic production of
chemical defenses against the pest (Sutherland, 1986). The lack of any strong conventional
genetic improvement programs to obtain pest resistance make sweet potato an important target
to be modified by biotechnological tools. Here, we show our experiences on sweet potato
biotechnology and our strategies to improve this important crop.

About Eric Muthuri