As part of the global research and development programme into the kiwifruit vine killing disease Psa, ZESPRI has formed a partnership with world-leading bacteriophage producer Utah-based OmniLytics Incorporated.
Bacteriophage (phage) are viruses that infect and kill bacteria. As the natural predator to bacteria, phage are found in almost every environment in nature, including within the food we eat and the water we drink.
OmniLytics is the world-leader in phage technology, especially in the control of plant pathogens in horticultural crops. This includes developing phage-based solutions for bacterial disease in tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, cabbage, melons, strawberry, apples, pears, citrus and ornamentals.
OmniLytics CEO, Justin Reber, said his company feels the sense of urgency from the kiwifruit industry to develop a solution to Psa.
“We are moving forward with urgency on this project to help provide the kiwifruit industry with a viable, long-term bacterial control solution,” Mr Reber said.
“Our relationship with ZESPRI is a perfect illustration of OmniLytics’ partnering strategy to team with ‘world leaders’ in their respective markets with a goal to jointly develop and commercialize innovative bacteriophage solutions.”
ZESPRI’s Innovation Manager Bryan Parkes said the partnership with OmniLytics is an example of the global scope of the research and development programme underway into Psa, which is being led by ZESPRI in coordination with Kiwifruit Vine Health.
Mr Parkes said as a biological control phage are non-toxic to humans, plants and animals, leave no residues and are perfectly safe with no harmful side effects. This is a tremendous advantage when it comes to worker re-entry into the fields, through packaging of the produce and all the way down to end-user consumption.
In addition, phage have proven to be highly effective in the field to control some plant bacterial diseases and are relatively inexpensive to produce. It was for these reasons that the development of a biological control using Psa-specific phage is being explored for the control of Psa-V.