Meet the Honeysweet Plum: A virus-resistant plum that ARS hopes to bring to market soon. They are large and oblong with a very sweet, flavorful taste.
ARS created the Honeysweet variety using RNAi, a biotechnology method that makes them immune to the plum pox virus. Plum pox infects stone fruit trees: plums, peaches, apricots and cherries. Once infected, the fruit discolors and falls from the tree prior to maturation. There is no natural, genetic resistance to the virus.
Plum pox is devastating, according to Dr. Chris Dardick, molecular plant biologist and lead scientist at the ARS Appalachian Fruit Research Laboratory in Kearneysville, WV. Eradicating the virus is costly: infected trees are identified and destroyed, and all trees in a 500-meter area around the infected tree are also destroyed to prevent virus spread.
To read the rest of the story, please go to: USDA Agricultural Research Service