The “Pea necrotic yellow dwarf virus” (PNYD virus) causes high yield losses in the cultivation of peas for the frozen food industry. Neither direct nor indirect control measures are currently available. In 2016, the average loss of earnings in Austria was 35 percent. Is it possible to find genetic resources that can be used to breed resistant varieties?
One possibility would be to use what is already contained in the crop plant. More than 3,000 different genotypes (so-called accessions) of the pea have been collected in gene banks. The CORNET project “SPITFIRE” is funded by the Research Promotion Agency (FFG) and together with scientific and corporate partners from Austria and Germany has set about systematically searching these resources for potential resistance genes.
Under glasshouse conditions, as many accessions as possible are brought into contact with the green pea aphid (the only known carrier of the PNYD virus). After an incubation period of a little more than a month, it is then determined if an infection has occurred. This is done by detecting the antigens formed using an ELISA test.
The project will run until 2023. The goal when the project is over, is to have determined the genetic resources that can be used as the basis for breeding resistant varieties. With this knowledge, molecular markers can be determined for use in cultivation. In the long term, farmers would then have pea varieties available that are less susceptible to the PNYD virus.