The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) granted approval to NexGen Plants
of Australia to conduct field trials of their gene-edited virus resistant
tomato lines. The tomato lines Solanum lycopersicum NP-TV101-1, NP-TV101-2,
NP-TV101-3,NP-TV201-1, NP-TV201-2, NP-TV201-3 were developed at the
University of Queensland. The USDA has determined that the six tomato lines
do not fall under the federal regulations for genetically engineered plants.
The gene-edited tomato plants were altered using particle bombardment of
gene sequences, allowing plants to detect and destroy the tomato spotted
wilt virus and cauliflower mosaic virus. Plants rely on RNA to recognize and
fight invading viruses, but the pathogen evolves to circumvent this
mechanism. Plants need time to develop another defense when this happens.
Instead of waiting for the process to occur naturally, Nexgen assembled
components of existing tomato DNA that will target the newest strains of the
virus, accelerating the development of resistance, according to Philippe
Herve, the company's CEO.