The papaya ringspot virus (PRSV) was discovered in Puna in 1992 where 95% of Hawaii's papaya was grown. Previously, PRSV had decimated the growing areas of Oahu, and a small outbreak on Kauai had been eradicated. In 1995 the PRSV was widespread in Puna and the total Hawaii papaya production fell from a peak production of 58.2 million lbs in 1993 to 35.6 million lbs in 1998, a decrease of 39%., but the decrease in Puna was greater at 52%.
The effect on our growers had a significant impact on the economy of the whole Island and the State. Papayas had been the biggest business in Puna. Luckily for the Papaya Industry, visionary scientists had begun looking at new biotech ways of developing disease resistant plants. The transgenic papaya developed by Dr. Dennis Gonsalves, then at Cornell University..., and University of Hawaii researchers, Richard Manshardt and Maureen Fitch, was released in Puna in 1998. The transgenic papaya was transformed in 1991 but it took seven years to get through the US regulatory system and into the fields.
There is no doubt that the transgenic papaya saved the papaya industry in Hawaii and now constitutes about 60% of all papayas grown in Hawaii.. Oahu is also recovering from the PRSV disaster that started for them in the 1940's. That virus problem had led to the growth of the Papaya Industry on the Big Island. Furthermore, these transgenic papaya have been used as a genetic source to produce new varieties that are especially suited for growing on Oahu.
Visit the Genetic Science Learning Center, "helping people understand how genetics affects their lives and society," to learn more about:
- The Basics and Beyond What is DNA? What are chromosomes? What are cells made of?
- Genetic Disorder Corner What are genetic disorders and how are they caused? What do genetic counselors do?
- The Biotechniques Laboratory Belly up to our interactive lab bench and practice basic molecular biology techniques.
- Stem Cells in the Spotlight Stem cells are the body's main building blocks. Explore the biology of stem cells, their potential uses in medicine and some of the challenges facing stem cell research.
- Pharmacogenomics: Drugs Designed for You What if your doctor could choose medical treatments, guaranteed effective, based on your genetic makeup? Explore the future of genomics-based medicine.
- Cloning in Focus What's the real story with cloning? Find out how it's done, examine potential uses for cloning technologies and explore the related ethical, legal and social issues.
- Gene Therapy: Molecular Bandage? Can we cure diseases by fixing faulty genes? See how gene therapy works, examine its possible uses and consider some of the major obstacles to success.
- Do Try This at Home! Hands-on activities for home or the classroom.