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SASHA Brief 2014: Weevil resistant sweetpotato through biotechnology

Farmers face approximately 28% loses of farm produce to weevil attacks. Sometime, due to climate changes with prolonged dry seasons, weevils may increase. In cases where it is only sweetpotato remaining as food destruction by weevils can be quite devastating. Additionally, undamaged root parts can accumulate toxins hence health threats. The need to develop weevil resistant varieties is urgent and conventional breeding schemes have failed. This brought about the biotechnology concept which has been applied to introduce synthetic genes that produce proteins with activity against sweetpotato weevils. As reported in this brief, previous work produced transgenic events with low accumulation of the Cry proteins in the storage root. However, new cry genes designed for higher accumulation have been introduced in sweetpotato varieties for subsequent testing. In parallel, dsRNA against several weevil essential genes were shown to kill larvae when micro-injected. These results profile the new resistance strategy based on Bt and RNAi technology.


Ghislain, M. 2014. Weevil resistant sweetpotato through biotechnology. International Potato center (CIP).