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Delta farm press

spraying-soybean-field-rig-unitedsoybeanboard United Soybean Board

Some early Arkansas soybeans hit by pigweeds, diseases, worms

Courts say dicamba ban in place

David Bennett | May 10, 2018

Having passed an April 15 dicamba spraying cutoff and multiple court challenges, the weather of recent weeks means Arkansas soybean growers are now facing a flush of pigweeds.

“I’m getting several calls from all over the state – ‘The pigweeds are up in our beans,’” says Tom Barber, University of Arkansas weed specialist. “We haven’t had a year in a while where the rains just stopped in the spring. We’ve had fairly wet springs the last several years and there’s been good opportunities for residual herbicide activation.”

Barber, who spoke on May 8, continues: “It is harder to manage pigweeds with just residual herbicides because they’re so environmentally-dependent and no rain, means no residual activity. Lately, rains have been spotty at best and currently there are only low chances of a shower or two in the next seven days.”

Jeremy Ross, University of Arkansas soybean specialist has also been talking to many concerned growers. “For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been on par for the five-year average for planting. The cold, wet conditions in April have caused some to replant. I’ve had several calls asking about minimum stands to keep.

“Because of the conditions, we have seen more seedling diseases – phytopthera, rhizoc and pithium. That’s especially true where there wasn’t a seed treatment.”

The spring has also “potentially set up for an SDS year because that fungus affects early-season beans in cool, wet environments,” says Ross. “We won’t really know if SDS will be a problem until the soybeans go into reproduction. At that point, there’s nothing we can do to pull plants out of the symptoms. There was a lot of talk a couple of years ago when SDS was bad in the state about fungicides and other products could cure the symptoms. Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case.”

There have also been a lot of worms and grubs in soybeans. “The worst of that, again, is where insecticide/fungicide seed treatments were not used,” says Ross.

Fighting pigweed

So, what has Barber been telling growers regarding the fight against pigweeds?

“Obviously, there was also a period in April when courts were involved and there was a lot of uncertainty about (the dicamba spraying cutoff date),” says Barber. “Many growers made the decision to return the LibertyLink soybean seed for Roundup Xtend seed prior to planting.

“The legal aspect, I believe, has since been cleared up for the time being with the Arkansas Agriculture Department releasing a statement on April 30 that dicamba regulations would be enforced in all counties and the dicamba cutoff was valid through Oct 31.”

Now, though, with Xtend beans planted in some fields, “pigweeds are coming up because we didn’t get rains to activate pre’s timely. Or, they may have gotten rains after the pigweeds had already come up.”

Due to the dicamba restrictions in Arkansas, the only option in such scenarios “is Roundup plus fomesafen, for the pigweed. An example would be 1.5 pints of Flexstar or 2.25 pints of Prefix (spiked) with six ounces of Flexstar to get the full allowable rate of fomesafen.

“If the pigweeds are up, we’ve got to get them small. Even they aren’t PPO-resistant and bigger than three inches tall, we don’t have a great chance of killing all of them. That’s where we’re at, timely applications are key to any success”.

As for PPO-resistant pigweed, “the higher percentage is in northeast Arkansas, although not every field is infested. Through our screening procedure it looks like approximately 50 percent of the samples we get in from northeast Arkansas (north of I-40 and east of the ridge) are PPO-resistant. Farther south and west it is not as widespread.”

Showers have been spotty and many times may not have provided enough rainfall for herbicide activation, says Barber. “However, in current temperatures if there’s moisture out there pigweeds can germinate. They don’t have to have a rain. And if the herbicides haven’t been activated they’ll come up. And once they’re up, you need an option to take them out post.

“We’ve been criticized for recommending Liberty because we have relied on Liberty for so long and it is a concern, but if you can’t spray dicamba legally there aren’t that many other post options in soybean, especially if pigweed populations are PPO-resistant.”

The state is growing more Enlist cotton which adds another option for pigweed control. “But because of the import approval issues with China, the Enlist bean acres are very limited,” says Barber.

Ross agrees. “If you don’t have LibertyLink planted and pigweeds are up, there really are limited options. In some pigweed areas, growers are going to come back in and replant with LibertyLink varieties.”

Despite all that, says Ross, “we’re okay with planting. We should get a lot of seed in the ground this week and next. We just need the weather to hold up for our farmers.”

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From PestNet

Mars aims to triple cocoa yield through development of disease-resistant cocoa

Company, cocoa farmers to tap genetic knowledge to improve crops, reduce pesticide use.

 

cocoa

Mars, Inc., plans to triple its global cocoa yield by developing more disease-resistant clones and continuing to improve farmer practices based on genetic knowledge of cocoa.

The global confectionery/pet food conglomerate has published research in the journal Frontiers of Plant Science that builds on work done by Mars, IBM and the USDA to help sequence the cocoa genome and make it publicly available.

The research also adds to work on higher-yielding pest- and disease-resistant clonal varieties Mars has helped develop with cocoa-growing countries. Applying this knowledge is expected to help farmers produce more cocoa on less land and with fewer pesticides, which can improve farmers’ livelihoods.

Specifically, Mars, Inc., in partnership with governmental and academic research organizations, used genetic markers to connect genetically-related cocoa trees and identify genes related to resistance of frosty pod, black pod and Ceratocystis wilt diseases.

In a keynote speech he delivered at the Fourth World Cocoa Conference in Berlin last month, Frank Mars, fourth-generation family member and member of the company’s board of directors, outlined Mars’ objectives in relation to this research.

“Over the next 10 years, Mars aims to develop even better disease-resistant clones,” Mars told conference attendees. “We’ll focus on both simple and advanced production methodologies and improved farmer practices with a goal to triple cocoa yields globally. This would free up land occupied with unproductive cocoa trees for farmers to grow other crops, including those for their own consumption. But to achieve this will require all of us in this room to think differently and work harder together; not only on better plant varieties and farming practices and models, but also on pest and disease control.”

Mars cited the need for continuing innovation, such as the company’s work through the Mars Center for Cocoa Science in Bahia, Brazil. Opened in 1982, the center has evolved to include private-public plant science partnerships with researchers and governments around the world. The center helps lead Mars’ efforts in areas such cocoa breeding, farming best practices, and pest and disease research and management.

Nonetheless, Mars said action the industry has taken so far hasn’t been sufficient to move the needle on sustainable cocoa.

“My hope is that 10 years from now, I can reflect on our efforts, both individually, and collaboratively,” Mars said. “I hope that I can look in the mirror and say I am proud of what we have achieved together. And know that cocoa does in fact have a sustainable future. And it’s one that uses science and technology to put farmers first.”

–Candy Industry

https://www.candyindustry.com/articles/88175-mars-aims-to-triple-cocoa-yield-through-development-of-disease-resistant-cocoa

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From CABI

Farmers Need Long-Term and Short-Term Solutions to Combat Fall Armyworm in Kenya

Reblogged from Farming First.

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From a distance, Wycliffe Ngoda’s two acres of shiny green maize crops look healthy and lush. But the tell-tale holes in the leaves and debris on the stems give away an increasingly dangerous secret hidden in more and more maize fields across Kenya and sub-Saharan Africa. The rampant Fall Armyworm caterpillar is once again threatening harvests across the continent for a second year.

The pest, which arrived in Africa from the Americas in 2016, affected around 50,000 hectares of maize in Kenya alone last year, costing 25 per cent of the crop, according to government officials.

This year, the losses could be as high as 50 per cent, threatening Kenya’s food security and farmers’ economic security in a country where the average annual consumption of maize surpasses 100kg per person.

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“This is one of the deadliest crop pests in the world,” said Dr B.M. Prasanna, director of the global maize programme at CGIAR’s International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), based in Nairobi. “It can have as many as six life cycles in a year and each female moth can lay as many as 1,500 to 2,000 eggs.

“There’s no single solution that will fight it in all the smallholder contexts. But we’re not starting from scratch.”

Government delegates and experts have recently travelled to Brazil to learn how Fall Armyworm is controlled in the Americas, including the use of pest-resistant varieties of maize.

Scientists at the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) have also found improved yields in controlled trials of transgenic crops as part of the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) initiative.

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But while the Kenyan government considers such developments as part of a long-term strategy to reduce the impact of Fall Armyworm, the pest continues to pose a threat in the short-term.

In their desperation to ward off the caterpillar, which can reach the size of a little finger, some farmers even resorted to mixing homemade pesticides.

“I came across Fall Armyworm last year,” said Mr Ngoda, 65, from Mbale, Vihiga county. “We were taken unaware. It’s something that had not occurred here before. The attack was very fast and furious.

“We started looking for local solutions. We took liquid detergents and mixed it with some ash. Eventually we succeeded in fighting it off but the damage was already done. I lost about 50 per cent of my crop, others lost 70 per cent.

“We were using local innovations but it was more like guesswork.”

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This year, Mr Ngoda said he was better prepared thanks to training in detection and responsible pesticide use provided by the county government and NGOs such as Farm Input Promotions Africa (FIPs-Africa). He said he had applied pesticide to his crops once so far.

The advice included treating crops with pesticides in the morning or afternoon when the caterpillars are active, and spraying to the side to avoid direct contact with the product. FIPs-Africa also contracts specialist sprayers to help farmers safely apply the correct pesticide.

In the meantime, Kenya’s Pest Control Products Board (PCPB) has fast-tracked its approval process for products that can help tackle Fall Armyworm to help address the threat in the short-term. But the challenge in rural areas is ensuring the best advice and information reaches the smallholders.

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CropLife Kenya organises popular county farmer training sessions every month and CABI has more than 120 Plantwise clinics across Kenya where smallholders can bring in samples of their damaged crop to get expert advice on the necessary remedy.

But more is needed to teach farmers how to live with a pest that is here to stay.

“I wish we had more people,” said Mr Ngoda. “Sometimes, farmers don’t seek solutions and expert advice. We need more surveillance and on farm visits.

“I’m normally guaranteed 40 bags minimum. Last year, I didn’t get 20. I thank God I have a small family and none of them are going to school, otherwise it would have been a total disaster.”

Reblogged from Farming First. Read the original article here→

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SE farm press

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Aphid-transmitted virus found in lower Southeast cotton

Cotton blue disease is a big problem in Brazil, and it seems to have come to the U.S. by a hurricane, like soybean rust did with Hurricane Katrina.

Patrick R. Shepard | May 03, 2018

A virus that is previously known to be vectored by aphids into cotton has been recently identified as the primary suspect virus from limited samples of cotton in Alabama. Similar symptomology has been reported in the coastal counties of Alabama, Georgia and the Florida Panhandle.

“The cotton blue disease (CBD) symptomology was observed at the end of 2016 by one of my former graduate students, Drew Schrimsher, in his grower cotton variety trials,” says Auburn University plant pathologist Dr. Kathy Lawrence.

“He observed it again at the end of 2017 and it was much worse; symptomology was observed in areas beyond the area where it was first observed. CBD is a big problem in Brazil, and we hypothesize it may have come to the U.S. by a hurricane, like soybean rust did with Hurricane Katrina.”

Symptoms include mosaic cupping and thickening of the dark blue/green leaves, yellowed leaf veins, and dwarfing of the plant. Other symptoms include no boll set on new growth, swollen and brittle stems, and decreased yields; fields with symptoms in early bloom had fewer bolls per plant.

“Once the virus starts showing its symptoms, the plant stops producing any more cotton,” Lawrence adds. “There’s not a top crop, which many growers depend on for income.

 “We seldom spray for aphids in cotton, and we don’t recommend spraying for them to prevent this suspect disease, which would take out beneficials and flare other insect pest problems. We do encourage growers and consultants to watch for the CBD virus symptomology, and if they find it, to call their state plant pathologist to help us keep up with it.

“We also recommend keeping cotton fields and surrounding areas weed-free, especially of legume and malvaceae weeds including pigweed and sida as the literature shows they harbor the virus. If the virus is in the weeds, aphids can pick it up and transmit it to cotton. So management might come down to taking out weed host plants.”

Schrimsher, who is now an agronomist with AGRI AFC, observed mild leaf crumpling symptoms in his cotton variety trials that he was conducting in growers’ fields in south Alabama and the Florida Panhandle in late summer to early fall 2016. He observed extensive severe leaf crumpling in 2017.

Lawrence says, “The virus was much worse by that time; CBD had progressed beyond the area where it was found in 2016. However, infected areas were patchy like aphid infestations are patchy along the outer edges of a field, and close to areas with other plants and trees. It didn’t take over the whole field.

“Schrimsher told me about the symptoms in August 2017. We took samples, and found it’s a virus. We normally don’t have viruses in Alabama, so to get an identification, leaves, petioles and stems were collected from the newest terminal of plants expressing leaf crumpling symptoms and sent to University of Arizona plant pathologist Dr. Judy Brown, who researches the viruses in her state. She tested the samples and ruled out leaf crumple or leaf curl virus; instead, she found a virus associated with aphids that matches the one in Brazil.”

It appears from Schrimsher’s variety trials that the U.S. cotton varieties that were in the trials and are grown in the Southeast region all demonstrated the symptomology. “He saw the virus’ symptoms across all company varieties in his tests,” Lawrence says. “CBD is a big problem in Brazil, but they do have cotton varieties that are tolerant to the disease. The U.S. seed companies have gene markers in their breeding program. It’ll take time to develop resistant varieties for the U.S., but it’s not like starting from scratch.

“We will observe CBD closely this year. We’ve seen it for two years and hope it’s not here to stay. We hope that it will have a limited economic impact like soybean rust did.”

Official confirmation of the suspect virus will require additional sampling and verification by APHIS.

 

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WEMA maize shows promising resistance to destructive fall armyworm

Source: Ghana|Myjoyonline.com | Joseph Opoku-Gakpo | Joy News
Date: 26-04-2018 Time: 03:04:03:pm

Scientists have observed unexpected benefits in Mozambique’s Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) field trials that could well be a game changer in efforts to ensure Africa’s food security.

Though the maize varieties were genetically engineered to withstand drought and the vicious stem borer pest, they’re also showing promising resistance to the destructive fall armyworm pest, which arrived on the African continent in 2016 and continues its devastating advance.

Early results from Mozambique indicate the genetically modified WEMA seeds can offer significant protection against insect pests — without the use of pesticides.

This has positive implications for the other nations that are developing WEMA varieties, including Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa and Ethiopia.

 In Mozambique, the WEMA seeds are being tested on a 2.5-hectare confined field trial site at Chokwe in the Gaza Province, some three hours’ drive from the capital Maputo.

Ordinary local maize varieties, which are conventional, and the WEMA seeds, which are transgenic (GM), were planted last year to provide comparisons, and the results have exceeded the expectation of scientists working on the project.

No pesticides or insecticides were applied at any point in time in the life cycle of any of the plants. Four weeks after sowing the seeds, scientists analyzed the level of infestation by fall armyworm and other pests in the maize fields.

 “The leaf damage is higher in the conventional material than the transgenic one,” Dr Pedro Fato, the plant breeder in charge of the WEMA project, told Joy news during a visit to the field trial site.

“Here we have a combination of insect pressure from stem borer and fall armyworm. There was more than 30 percent [difference] on yield between the conventional and the transgenic, which means WEMA protects about 30 percent of the yield. The WEMA material shows resistance to both insects,” he noted.

The results are important because maize is a major staple in Africa, consumed by more than 300 million people. But the stem borer is a major pest that destroys maize by eating through the plants, leaving them struggling to survive. In many countries, fall armyworm is proving to be equally destructive.

Currently, farmers try to control these pests through the use of pesticides. Farmers in Mozambique say they have to spend a lot of money on pesticides, and they fear using the products could endanger their health.

“When I plant maize, pests attack them. I use pesticides to stop them,” explained Armahdo Bule, 59-year old farmer. “I know that using the pesticides without personal protection could give me diseases. I know that using pesticides is not good because it could give you problems. But we still use them,” he added

The pests also greatly reduce crop yields. “Stem borer is a biotic stress that Mozambique is concerned about, especially in this [Chokwe] area where there is a lot of heat,” Fato said. “It occurs throughout the country and sometimes causes yield loss of more than 40 percent.”

Further compounding the problem of pest attacks is the worsening weather. “Drought is another big challenge we farmers have to deal with repeatedly,” said Tabusa Arije, president of the local farmers association.

“The way the climate is changing has brought a lot of problems. Last year, we planted beans in July, but we didn’t make anything because the rain didn’t come and the temperature was high,” he noted.

Officials managing irrigation services in the country are equally concerned, saying the drought problem has gotten worse recently and led farmers into debt situations.

“There was a bad drought in 2016 and there was no water in the irrigation canals,” said Soares Almeida Xerinda, board chairman of the government irrigation organization Hydraulics of Chokwe.

“The impact was very bad because the farmers lost the crops that they have… Some farmers work with the banks to get inputs including seeds and fertilizers but until now, they still face the consequence of the drought.”

To address the problem facing maize, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) launched the WEMA project, a public-private initiative that aims to produce conventional and genetically modified maize resistant to drought and pests.

The WEMA varieties are being developed through a collaboration between the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and government research institutions in six African nations using gene technology donated by Monsanto.

Since the resulting seeds are royalty-free, local seed companies can make them available to smallholder farmers at affordable prices.

“The project aims to develop and avail to farmers drought-tolerant and insect-protected maize varieties using a range of approaches, including conventional plant breeding and genetic modification,” said Dr Denis Kyetere, AATF executive director.

“These varieties will improve yields under moderate drought and protect maize from insect-pest damage,” he said.

Conventional WEMA varieties already have been introduced onto the market in target countries, except Ethiopia, which is currently testing the conventional varieties and preparing for drought-tolerant and insect-resistant (Bt) genetically modified maize confined field trials.

In 2016, South Africa became the first project country to commercialize Bt maize for use by smallholder farmers. Mozambique hopes to release the WEMA maize as the country’s first genetically modified organism.

The scientists are excited to discover that the Bt WEMA maize is also showing partial, but significant resistance to the fall armyworm, which has already spread to almost 30 African countries, destroying maize and other crops.

The pests are especially destructive because they don’t respond easily to pesticide applications and reproduce very rapidly.

In Mozambique alone, between 282,000 and 712,000 tonnes of maize were lost to the fall armyworm last year, costing the country’s economy between $83.8 and $208.7 million.

According to a report by the United Kingdom-based Center for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) on the potential impact of the fall armyworm pests in Africa, which was commissioned by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

Fato said the additional resistance to fall armyworm is good news for Mozambique’s agricultural sector, although that was not the intent of the research work.

“To control stem borer and fall armyworm, the farmers use a lot of insecticides and the cost of insecticide is higher particularly for the fall armyworm. So if you can produce maize that doesn’t need any protection in terms of insecticide, that will help the farmers a lot, in terms of yield.”

Farmers in the vicinity have already visited the WEMA fields and are excited about what they saw. “WEMA is providing solutions for problems and will increase productivity,” said Armahdo Bule.

“WEMA is welcoming because it will help us deal with diseases and drought,” said farm leader Tabusa Arije. “We are waiting eagerly to get the seeds.

“We are teaching ourselves about the seeds, how to apply pesticides and ensuring technology transfer with the hope that tomorrow, with WEMA varieties, things will be okay.”

This is the second — and perhaps last — of the confined field trials for insect resistance trait in Mozambique. Later this year, some of the varieties will be tested for their ability to withstand drought. Fato expects a smooth process that will eventually allow the WEMA varieties to enter the market and reach the farmers.

“In Mozambique, the regulation is in place,” he explained. “And that is why we certain we shall be able to plant these first transgenic materials. I hope that other crops will follow. The regulation is really conducive to GMO technology development.”

Soares Almeida Xerinda, the irrigation company official, agreed. “The WEMA variety will be a very important product because when you get involved in agriculture, you will always have a drought.

“Even if you have an irrigation system, you can always save water. Water is not in abundance. If you can save the water, you can use it for a long time including when you have a drought. The WEMA project is a good initiative.”

 

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WEMA Maize Shows Promising Resistance to Fall Armyworm in Mozambique

Early results from the field trials of Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) show that the genetically modified maize plants are protected against insect pests, even without the use of pesticides. This indicates that the GM maize varieties could help ensure Africa’s food security.

The GM maize varieties under field trials were engineered to withstand drought and stem borer attack. Moreover, results also showed that the GM maize varieties also exhibit promising resistance to fall armyworm, which is one of the major pest problems faced by many farmers in Africa today.

These initial results have positive implications not just for Mozambique, but also for other countries developing WEMA varieties such as Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, and Ethiopia.

Read the article from Biosciences for Farming in Africa and My Joy Online for more information.

 

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Innovative control of fly that deposits eggs in fruit crops

Researchers develop first gene drive targeting worldwide crop pest

Biologists at the University of California San Diego have developed a method of manipulating the genes of an agricultural pest that has invaded much of the United States and caused millions of dollars in damage to high-value berry and other fruit crops.

Research led by Anna Buchman in the lab of Omar Akbari, a new UC San Diego insect genetics professor, describes the world’s first “gene drive” system—a mechanism for manipulating genetic inheritance—in Drosophila suzukii, a fruit fly commonly known as the spotted-wing drosophila.

As reported April 17 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Buchman and her colleagues developed a gene drive system termed Medea (named after the mythological Greek enchantress who killed her offspring) in which a synthetic “toxin” and a corresponding “antidote” function to dramatically influence inheritance rates with nearly perfect efficiency.

“We’ve designed a gene drive system that dramatically biases inheritance in these flies and can spread through their populations,” said Buchman. “It bypasses normal inheritance rules. It’s a new method for manipulating populations of these invasive pests, which don’t belong here in the first place.”

Native to Japan, the highly invasive fly was first found on the West Coast in 2008 and has now been reported in more than 40 states. The spotted wing drosophila uses a sharp organ known as an ovipositor to pierce ripening fruit and deposit eggs directly inside the crop, making it much more damaging than other drosophila flies that lay eggs only on top of decaying fruit. Drosophila suzukii has reportedly caused more than $39 million in revenue losses for the California raspberry industry alone and an estimated $700 million overall per year in the U.S.

In contained cage experiments of spotted wing drosophila using the synthetic Medea system, the researchers reported up to 100 percent effective inheritance bias in populations descending 19 generations.

“We envision, for example, replacing wild flies with flies that are alive but can’t lay eggs directly in blueberries,” said Buchman.

Applications for the new synthetic gene drive system could include spreading genetic elements that confer susceptibility to certain environmental factors, such as temperature. If a certain temperature is reached, for example, the genes within the modified spotted wing flies would trigger its death. Other species of fruit flies would not be impacted by this system.

“This is the first gene drive system in a major worldwide crop pest,” said Akbari, who recently moved his lab to UC San Diego from UC Riverside, where the research began. “Given that some strains demonstrated 100 percent non-Mendelian transmission ratios, far greater than the 50 percent expected for normal Mendelian transmission, this system could in the future be used to control populations of D. suzukii.”

Another possibility for the new gene drive system would be to enhance susceptibility to environmentally friendly insecticides already used in the agricultural industry.

“I think everybody wants access to quality fresh produce that’s not contaminated with anything and not treated with toxic pesticides, and so if we don’t deal with Drosophila suzukii, crop losses will continue and might lead to higher prices,” said Buchman. “So this gene drive system is a biologically friendly, environmentally friendly way to protect an important part of our food supply.”

Coauthors of the paper include John Marshall of UC Berkeley, Dennis Ostrovski of UC Riverside and Ting Yang of UC Riverside and now UC San Diego. The California Cherry Board supported the research through a grant.

Publication date: 4/18/2018

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