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CTA. 1994. Weevil-proof pulses. Spore 54. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/49520
A technique to render pulses inedible to weevils has the potential to greatly reduce post-harvest losses. The breakthrough has come about because a team of US and Australian researchers have been able to transfer the natural resistance that is found...
A technique to render pulses inedible to weevils has the potential to greatly reduce post-harvest losses. The breakthrough has come about because a team of US and Australian researchers have been able to transfer the natural resistance that is found in the common kidney bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) into the common pea (Pisum sativum). Using the same technique, the researchers are confident that the resistance can be transferred into cowpeas, chickpeas, mung beans and other pulses. The resistant gene was transferred from the common kidney bean by Professor Thomas Higgins of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Canberra. He used a well-established technique involving the bacterium, Agrobacterium tumefaciens. When that bacterium infects a plant it inserts its own genes. So by placing the weevil resistant gene in Agrobacterium, the bacterium then acts like a syringe and injects the gene into the cells of the common pea. Professor Maarten Crispeels of the University of California, San Diego, then attached an extra piece of DNA which switches the genes on in the seeds and nowhere else. The genetically altered pea seeds were tested against two common pests, the cowpea weevil (Callosobruchus maculatus) and the adzuki bean weevil (C. chinensis). The larvae of both insects ate the unaltered peas without effect, but died soon after touching the altered seeds. The resistant genes produce an inhibitor to the alpha-amylase enzyme produced by the larvae. This enzyme is crucial for the digestion of starch. By preventing this enzyme from working, the; larva gets no nutrition' from what it has eaten and ' therefore starves to death. The research team sees no health or other risks to humans, because people have been eating kidney beans for thousands of years with no ill effects. The enzyme is also destroyed during cooking. The research team are not patenting their technology but it has been published openly and the team plan to make their work available to governments and research organizations who are interested. Professor M Crispeels University of California, San Diego 9500 Gilman Drive La Jolla CA 92093-0116 USA Professor Thomas Higgins Division of Plant Industry CSIRO GPO Box 1600 Canberra 2601 AUSTRALIA