Wild tomatoes may hold key to protecting crops from pests

EAST LANSING (WJRT) -- (4/24/2019) -- Researchers at Michigan state University think they might have found a way to protect tomato crops from pests without using chemicals.
It turns out there is a certain kind of wild tomato that produces its own pest repellent.
Researchers say they identified the corresponding gene and are now hoping to breed other types of tomatoes with the same all-natural protection.
The study, published in Science Advances, traced the evolution of a specific gene that produces a sticky compound in the tips of the trichomes, or hairs, on the Solanum pennellii plant found in the Atacama desert of Peru – one of the harshest environments on earth. These sticky hairs act as natural insect repellants to protect the plant, helping ensure it will survive to reproduce.
Researchers hope the discovery could eventually lead to similar revelations in other crops.
The original paper can be found here: https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/4/eaaw3754