New Zealand scientists share genome sequences to stop kiwifruit killer disease

28th Nov 2014

New Zealand scientists are sharing the genome sequences for both the kiwifruit and a kiwifruit disease that has struck around the world in a bid to control the virus. The Government’s Plant and Food Research institute said it was crowd sourcing knowledge in the hope the international science community could help stem the Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae (Psa)  bacterium.
Plant and Food Research had shared both genome sequences online for collaborators globally to explore and determine the underlying biology of the infection.
“By making the genome of a plant available alongside that of the bacterium causing a major disease, we are hoping that the combined expertise of the entire science community will quickly be able to generate new ideas for research and identify new opportunities for formal collaboration to solve a very serious problem for kiwifruit growers worldwide,” project leader Dr Zac Hanley said.

New Zealand produced around 30 percent of the globally traded volume of kiwifruit, but the crop had been in jeopardy since the discovery of Psa in 2010 and since then around 85 percent of kiwifruit orchards in New Zealand had become affected.
Psa had been present in South Korea and Japan since the 1980s and Italy since 1992.
Two strains of the bacterium had been identified in New Zealand orchards: a virulent strain (Psa-V) that could cause plant death, and a less virulent strain (Psa-LV) that could affect productivity.

The Plant and Food Research program is aimed at developing new management practices to control the disease and breed new cultivars with increased resistance.

Abdul Adil. Rachel Kayani is away this month

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