Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Natural Insect Resistance May Make
Pesticides Obsolete
Written By Brooke Sullivan (3)
The plant shown above is known as the currant
tomato (Solanum pimpinellifolium) a close relative to the
modern cultivated tomato, this species and other
relatives are native on the Galapagos islands. Other
than their beauty, what makes this family of tomatoes
extraordinary is their resistance to whiteflies.
Whiteflies are naturally attracted to plants such
as tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers and cabbage; they
are detrimental to the plants health. The flies land on
leaves and feed on the plant’s vital juices and create
a substance known as honeydew, and lay their eggs
on the plant. Honey dew can attract ants and is a
suitable habitat for many types of fungus often halting
photosynthesis in that part of the leaf. (Old Farmer’s
It is believed that the acyl sugars in the
epithelial cells of these Galapagos native tomatoes is
responsible for the whitefly resistance.   (Vosman, Ben,
et al, 2018) Though the acyl sugars direct role in
preventing the whiteflies has not yet been
discovered the two prevailing theories are: that the
sugars are toxic to the insects, and that the sugars
sticky nature immobilizes and traps the insects
them on the leaf. (Vosman, Ben, et al, 2018)
Many of the genes  that code for the
production of acyl sugars have been discovered
but more research must be done to isolate the
production. This research has the potential to
improve agriculture globally. Once the gene for
creating the acyl sugars is isolated it may be possible
to transgenically transform plants with this resistance.
This would reduce the need for dangerous pesticides
allowing humans to consume fresh veggies without
the worry of harmful pesticides and would likely bolster
the bee populations of the world which are suffering due to
commercial pesticide.  

Written By Brooke Sullivan (3)

Close relative of the cultivated tomato is resistant to
many insects. (2018, April 06). Retrieved from
Old Farmer's Almanac. (n.d.). Whiteflies. Retrieved from
Vosman, B., C., W. P., Henken, B., Henriƫtte D. L. M.
van Eekelen, Vos, R. C., & Voorrips, R. E.
(2018, February 06). Broad spectrum insect
resistance and metabolites in close relatives

of the cultivated tomato. Retrieved from

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