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SASHA Brief 03: Weevil resistant sweetpotato through biotechnology

Unfortunately, weevils continue every year to damage about a quarter of the sweetpotato harvest in countries like Uganda and alter the quality and safety of storage roots. A long effort to express Cry proteins that would kill weevil larvae in the infected storage root has not resulted in obtaining fully resistant sweetpotato varieties. A new strategy based on the production of small RNA to weaken specific genes of the weevils to block their development has been developed but lacks the final proof of concept in the sweetpotato crop. It is clear that a single solution is not at hand from the on-going biotech and breeding efforts. Options for the way forward are discussed.