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SASHA Brief 2011: Weevil resistant sweetpotato through biotechnology

Weevils can destroy 60%-100% of sweetpotato (SP) crops during periods of pronounced drought. As SP is at times the only food available, this can be quite devastating. The impact of weevils can affect not only food security, but also sweetpotato production, marketability, and sustainability, especially in areas experiencing longer dry periods. With the climate change long spells of dry seasons are foreseen, and the threat and impact of weevils may increase further. Conventional integrated pest management practices among smallholder farmers are failing because of poor field sanitation. Additionally, the common practices of in-ground storage, piecemeal harvesting, and strip harvesting mean that sweetpotato crops are exposed to weevils throughout a significant part of the year. The aim of this project is to “feed the people, not the weevils” by developing weevil-resistant sweetpotato varieties through combined breeding and biotechnology. This brief outlines how combining conventional breeding and biotechnology can combat the pernicious and devastating consequences of sweetpotato weevil. Some of promising key findings are the identification of three insecticidal proteins and the introduction of putative resistance genes into sweetpotato varieties.


Ghislain, M. 2011. Weevil resistant sweetpotato through biotechnology. International Potato Center (CIP).