New tomatoes are both insect and virus resistant
“It brings us closer and closer to something that can be used commercially to essentially eliminate the need for pesticides in many growing regions,” Mutschler-Chu said.
The project rests on a foundation that was built over 20 years, supported by college-level funding and federal HATCH grants. During that time, new tools of molecular biology were developed, from PCR-based markers and SNP markers to the sequencing of the tomato genome. Using the new methods, it took Mutschler-Chu 10 years to develop the first tomato line with enough acylsugar, then four years to create a better series of 30 lines.
The impact could be far-reaching, she said. Not only would it be a boon to the U.S agricultural economy, it could also have significant impact in the developing world, where tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetable cash crops, especially for small subsistence farmers.
“This is even more critical, because they don’t have the resources to buy pesticides, and there is often misuse of pesticides,” Mutschler-Chu said