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Wellesbourne researchers protect Brussel sprouts

Sprouts affected by turnip mosaic virus
Sprouts affected by turnip mosaic virus

Love them or loathe them, Brussel sprouts are synonymous with Christmas and thanks to Wellesbourne-based researchers at the University of Warwick, they will continue to be so.

Professor John Walsh’s team at Warwick’s School of Life Sciences have discovered natural plant genes that will make sprouts resistant to two of the biggest threats they face, turnip mosaic virus and turnip yellow virus.

Both viruses are common, transmitted by greenfly, and can reduce the yields of Brussels sprout crops and in severe cases making them completely unmarketable.

Unlike many plant disease resistance genes, which can be rapidly overcome by new strains of pathogens, the enhanced resistance being developed at Warwick is durable, and an effective defence against a broad-spectrum of virus strains.

Professor Walsh said: “The growing of virus-resistant plants will improve food security and reduce pesticide inputs and residues in vegetables. Developing crops with durable disease resistance is a long-winded process but is the most sustainable approach to disease control.”

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