DNA Plant Technology Corp. on Wednesday announced datafrom field trials of genetically engineered tomato plants,showing they have a significantly enhanced ability to resistBotrytis cinerea fungi.

"The test data indicates a significant opportunity for extendingthe shelf life of fresh market produce by increasing resistanceto fungi which cause post-harvest rot without the use offungicides," said John Bedbrook, executive vice president anddirector of science at the company (NASDAQ:DNAP).

The tomatoes received a gene that encodes chitinase, anenzyme that degrades the cell walls of fungi. DNAP's chitinaseanti-fungal technology is protected by two U.S. patents.

The field trials were conducted on a quarter-acre plot at a farmin Brentwood, Calif. The company will conduct further fieldtrials with other genes, such as glucanase, to test for synergisticeffects when used with chitinase. Glucanase helps in thehydrolytic process of breaking down cell walls. DNAP's goal isto develop a vine-ripened tomato that is less vulnerable topost-harvest rot and that has good color and acid-sugar balancefor flavor.

Bedbrook told BioWorld that DNAP is taking a conservativeapproach to regulatory approvals and expect its first tomatoesto reach markets in the mid-1990s. -- KH

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