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SASHA Brief 2013: Weevil resistant sweetpotato through biotechnology

Weevil’s damage on sweetpotato threatens food security for the poor. Additionally, its production, marketability, and sustainability, especially in areas experiencing longer dry periods. Mitigation procedure applied conventional breeding methods which failed in spite of considerable investments for decades leaving farmers hopeless. This brief report on project aimed at developing weevil resistant sweetpotato variety through breeding and biotechnology. Biotechnology has been applied to introduce synthetic genes that produce proteins with activity against the weevils. Some of the key results showed that, out of about 30 transgenic events, one with the Cry3Ca1 gene displayed reduced infection and damages by weevils in a confined field trial in Puerto Rico. New gene constructs expected to result in enhanced accumulation of weevil-active proteins are now being used to transform sweetpotato varieties. As a complementary strategy, an RNAi strategy started with transcriptome analysis to identify weevil target genes. As this brief goes to press, first toxicity assays are currently underway on weevil larvae.


Ghislain, M. 2013. Weevil resistant sweetpotato through biotechnology. International Potato Center (CIP).