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Plant protection research targets cacao in developing countries
Date:5/17/2010

water mold (oomycete) pathogens place critical limitations on cacao production worldwide. While significant advances have been made in research involving disease resistance for staple food crops such as rice, wheat, and corn, more work is needed involving other crops to help provide food and income options for smallholder farmers in developing countries. Cocoa is predominantly a smallholder crop, with more than 90 percent of the world's production originating from small farms.

The project (http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=0965353) targets two mechanisms that appear to be crucial for the way these pathogens attack plants. One approach will explore the usefulness of an anti-microbial protein to target and impair infection within the feeding parts (haustoria) of the pathogen. A second approach involves blocking the entry of virulence proteins that pathogens secrete into host cells to bring about disease. The most promising strategies will be transferred to cacao and evaluated for their ability to protect against disease.

"To help ensure smallholder communities in developing countries are provided with the kinds of nutrition and income options needed for a healthy life, it is critical that crop improvement strategies be applied to many different kinds of crops," Tyler explains. "One of the strengths of this project is that the tested approaches will potentially be applicable to a wide variety of crop species and diseases that are important to the developing world."


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Contact: Susan Bland
subland@vbi.vt.edu
540-231-7912
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert

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