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Insect resistant cowpeas are being developed by CSIRO Plant Industry to help provide a more reliable food crop for sub-Saharan Africa
August, 2006

Source: CSIRO Plant Industry e-newsletter issue 14, winter 2006

More than 200 million people in this region use cowpeas as a major source of protein.

One serious pest that plagues cowpeas is the legume pod borer that often reduces yield by more than 80 percent.

Useful levels of pest resistance have not been found in the extensive collections of cowpeas and related species, but gene technology may be able to help.

Dr TJ Higgins (photo) and his CSIRO Plant Industry Canberra-based team are international experts in genetically modifying legumes. They have developed a system to introduce new genes into cowpeas so that genes for ‘built-in' protection can be incorporated.

The team is now looking to incorporate Bt genes, the same class of genes that protect GM cotton from Helicoverpa caterpillars, to provide protection against pod-borers in cowpeas.

This research is supported by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation and grants from the Rockefeller Foundation.

Full article in PDF format:

CSIRO Plant Industry e-newsletter

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