Mezzetti and Gentile - Genetic transformation of fruit crops: results, applications and research

Bruno Mezzetti1* e Alessandra Gentile2**
1Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali e delle Produzioni Vegetali, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Via Brecce Bianche, 60131 Ancona
2Dipartimento di OrtoFloroArboricoltura e Tecnologie Agroalimentari, Università di Catania, Via Valdisavoia 5, 95123 Catania

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Key words: genetically-engineered fruit trees, regeneration and transformation protocols, disease resistance, plant habitus, fruit quality, GMO rules.

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Abstract

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The recent evolution of molecular biotechnology has promoted the development of new DNA recombinant technologies with important perspectives of application on agricultural systems and food industries, but at the same time opening a controversial discussion on their risks and benefits for the environment and the consumers. These novelties for the agriculture and food industries have induced European and National institutions to identify specific and restricted rules. Field trials are a prerequisite for the assessment of risks and benefits of any new genetically modified plants, and as a consequence, for market approval. Although the commercial production of transgenic annual crops is a reality, commercial genetically-engineered fruit trees are still far from common. At research level, for several fruit crops were achieved important results particularly for the improvement of disease resistance (fungi, bacteria, virus and insects, plant habitus control, fruit set and quality). In 10 years of GMOs field trial notification, a peculiarity of our country was the research activity carried out on many fruit (cherry, kiwi, strawberry, raspberry, olive, table grape). The future of genetic transformation as a tool for the breeding of fruit trees requires the development of genotype-independent procedures, based on the transformation of meristematic cells with high regeneration potential and/or the use of regeneration-promoting genes. Now we have the important need to implement research trial notifications in the EU countries and to create a National and European network for the larger and coordinated activities related to the assessment GM plants risk and benefits.

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