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Plant physiologists Rob Schuurink and Paula van Kleeff from the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS) at the University of Amsterdam received an NWO grant for research on making tomato plants less susceptible to attacks from the whitefly.

Tomatoes. Photo: Pixabay

Saliva of whiteflies contains components that manipulate plant defenses, leading to successful colonization of the host and severe plant damage. The researchers have identified whitefly saliva components secreted into the plant’s sap stream and also identified their potential in planta targets. By mutating the interaction sites within the tomato targets, they will generate tomato plants that are less vulnerable to whitefly attacks. 

The NWO grant of about 200.000 euro is for a postdoc and technician and is also supported by the companies Takii & Co.  Limagrain, Keygene and Enza Zaden R&D.