With climate change affecting important vegetable crops, researchers from Kakatiya and Osmania Universities have successfully developed tomato varieties that outsmart the global warming and withstand the onslaught of various pests.
Climate change is turning semi-arid areas into arid zones affecting productivity of vegetable and fruit that are sensitive to drought and pests. Applying transgenic technology, researchers from Kakatiya University, Warangal, have produced a variety of “smart” tomatoes that can survive in drought conditions and in soils affected by salinity.
Mr N. Rama Swamy, working with the Kakatiya University, teamed up with M. Praveen, from the Ohio State University, Ohio, USA, to develop salt tolerant tomatoes. Thanks to persistent drought and the indiscriminate use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, fields in many places have turned either saline or alkaline.
The climate change has only added to the problem, affecting the overall production of horticultural crops. They selected the tomato crop because it is a model species for introduction of important agronomical genes.
It contains Vitamin A, rich in Vitamin C and a source of lycopene, which is the most powerful antioxidant that could fight cancers. As vegetable and medicine, the crop cannot be grown in drought prone areas.
The researchers induced salt tolerance in tomato after molecular cloning, making the tomato variety capable of growing in saline and drought prone areas. In a separate research, a team comprising S. Anil Kumar, P. Hima Kumari and P. B. Kavi Kishor from the department of genetics, of the Osmania University, developed the variety that can effectively resist various fungal pathogens.
Tomatoes are usually attacked by various fungal pathogens causing it to wilt early. They used Osmotin and Chitinase genes to make the tomato resistant to pests, which reduces the use of artificial pesticides.