Fire blight resistance in apple

Fire blight (Erwinia amylovora) is a bacterial disease found in apples and pears that normally results in tree mortality and serious financial loss to the farmer. There currently are few management tools available to control fire blight, and many popular apple varieties are highly susceptible to this tree fruit disease. Current control practices rely on the spraying of antibiotics, and in many regions the bacterial pathogen has become resistant to these treatments.

OSF is working on a genetic engineering solution to make apple varieties resistant to this disease. Our approach is to silence existing receptor genes in the apple variety so the disease does not have a means to attack the plant. Using fire blight-resistant apple varieties and apple genomics, we have been able to identify target genes and we have developed the means to inhibit their activity. We will continue to assess other disease resistant apple variety opportunities as advancements in apple genomic data continues to become available.

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