GM wines fight Pierces disease
A team of researchers from California has found a way to fight a bacterium called Xylella fastidiosa (Xf) that causes Pierce's disease and poses a significant threat to Californian grapevines.
Researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), University of California at Davis (UCD), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service have created specially engineered grapevines that produce a hybrid antimicrobial protein that can block Xf infection.
By helping the vine fight the microbe with specific proteins, the scientists predict there will be less reliance on chemicals as growers seek to fend off the bacterium and the glassy-winged sharpshooter (Homalodisca vitripennis) insect that carries it. As the insect feeds on various plants, it distributes the microbe widely.
The key to the project's success is the fact that early in an Xf infection, molecules on the outer membrane of the microbe interact with cells of the grapevine. By interfering with that interaction between microbe and vine, the vines can go on to produce a healthy crop of grapes.