brown rot

jessakaSeptember 3, 2010

my fruit trees got brown rot this year. it was suggested to me by a friend that perhaps fruit trees that were not genetically engineered would not get brown rot. does anyone have an answer to this? thank you.

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alan haigh

My advice is don't take your friends advice too seriously as that friend seems to base opinions on very little factual information.

Genetically engineered fruit trees are not yet available as none have been patented as far as I know and no variety widely available is the product of gene splicing.

Some varieties are natural mutations and are called sports of varieties that have all been developed through traditional breeding techniques. Sports are the closest thing to genetically engineered trees being grown commercially and, some would argue, pose the same danger as GE trees- meaning not much. I'm undecided on the issue (not smart enough to evaluate).

Peach and plum trees naturally vary in their resistance to brown rot and most breeding programs (excepting our Canadian neighbors) don't factor in BR susceptibility in making selections for patent.

If they isolate a gene that increases BR resistance perhaps we can have stone fruit varieties in the future with genetically engineered BR resistance.

Meanwhile you can make another post asking for opinions on BR resistant varieties. I could help you there.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 8:17AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

I agree, you're friend is mistaken. I'm not aware of any genetically engineered fruit trees available for purchase.

Some time ago, I read about some work going on with a genetically engineered plum tree, but it had nothing to do with brown rot, and I don't believe it has been released.

There are sports, as Hman mentions, but these are natural mutations of genes already within the original gene makeup of the tree. I can't imagine how someone would think those are a danger. This is different from genetically engineered plants where genes from one organism are inserted in another. Bt corn is an example of this. Genetic material from a bacteria was inserted in corn.

The biggest concern (in my opinion) is that sometimes genes are expressed differently when they are inserted in different organisms, and it may be unclear for a time how those new genes will play out.

Not that I'm against it (Nature occasionally does the same thing. And we need more technological innovation in agriculture to feed a growing world population.) but it wouldn't bother me for scientists to do a little more testing before releasing GM plants.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 12:20PM
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alan haigh

Yes, I believe that it's quite possible that weather may put a real pinch on world food production in the the near future (Russian wheat crop failed this year because of intense heat). If this becomes the case I think nothing will stop the use of GE food to stave off starvation- even Europe will quickly join that program.

Now that I've given it some thought, I think I may have read something about splicing genes to put resistance to plum pox in stone fruit. In my memory it may have already been done in Europe. My memory sometimes plays tricks on me though.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 12:39PM
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i even thought that because they were drawf tres that they had been genetically enginnered.


    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 7:33AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

There's a term called "genetic dwarf", which sort of sounds like "genetically engineered", but it's not the same thing(at least not with fruit trees).

Genetic dwarfs express their dwarfing characteristics from breeding. You could think of it in terms of dogs. Many breeds of dogs have a smaller counter-part of the same breed, called "toys". Toy Labrador, toy Husky, ect. The genetics regulate the size. But the genetic manipulation is a result of standard breeding practices, not genetic engineering.

The other, more common, method of dwarfing trees is by grafting a variety on a dwarfing rootstock. The rootstock (through a sort of managed incompatibility) limits the size of the tree. Perhaps the best analogy I can think of is a child that has been limited on nourishment will not grow up to reach it's full genetic potential in height. In the same way, a scion grafted on dwarf roots will not reach its potential.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 2:49PM
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thank you so much for the information. i may change my mind about ge yet. i have been so against it. ha.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2010 at 5:37PM
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