Scientists want to create disease-resistant strawberries


Researchers at Nibio will adopt a new type of genetic engineering when trying to grow strawberries that are resistant to disease, including the fungal disease ‘Grey Mold’ (botrytis cincera).

This summer, fungus ruined approximately 40 percent of the strawberry crop.

Researcher Tage Thorstensen at the Norwegian Institute for bio-economy (Nibio) has created more resistant berries, which can cope with both Grey Mold and other diseases.

To do this, he uses a new gene technology, called the ‘Crispr Method’, reported the newspaper Nationen.

‘What we do is simply to make a small mutation, using ‘gene-editing’ in genes involved in disease resistance in wild strawberries’, he explained.

Then he and his colleagues test how the mutated plant reacts to disease. The goal is to develop new commercial strawberry varieties.

According to Thorstensen, the Crispr method is more specifically targeted, simpler and cheaper than traditional genetic modification (GMO).

‘The new plant will not differ from a plant that has been mutated another way. It will not be a GMO plant in the traditional sense’, he said.

For this reason, Thorstensen believes Crispr plants should be regulated differently to GM plants. Currently there are no separate Crispr regulations.

The ‘Network for GMO-Free Food’ believes the technology and research is ‘interesting’ and they await concrete results before saying whether they are for or against the Crispr method.


Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today