Monsanto offers transgenic papaya tech to TNAU

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi, Oct 23 | Updated: Oct 24 2007, 06:00am hrs
The Tamil Nadu Agriculture University (TNAU) will now develop transgenic papaya seeds resistant to the ring spot virus. The US seed multinational Monsanto, has transferred its technology to TNAU on a royalty-free basis for 10 years for developing such papayas. We will transfer this technology to the popular CO-7 variety papaya. It will take 4 years before the transgenic crop is released for commercial cultivation, said F Balasubramanian, director, TNAU Centre for Plant Molecular Biology.

He said that the papaya ring spot virus (PRSV) causes a crop loss in the range of 30% to 70%. It affects production and productivity by decreasing the photosynthetic capacity of the plants, which results in stunted growth, decrease in sugar concentration, deformed and inedible fruit, and plant mortality.

The virus is transmitted between plants by mechanical activities like pruning and by insect vectors - Myzus pericae and Aphis gossypii. It also survives on cucurbitaceous crops like squash, cucumber, pumpkin.

Monsantos technology facilitates the development of transgenic PRSV-resistant papaya, which would contain a virus coat protein for developing resistance to the virus. In other words, a protein gene from the pathogen is used to fight against the pathogen itself, similar to the way vaccines immunise human beings against different diseases, said the Monsantos chief of India operations, Sekhar Natarajan.