Case Study 17: Basil Lines Highly Resistant to Downy Mildew
Principal Investigators: IS: Yigal Cohen (Bar-Ilan University); US: James Simon (Rutgers University)
Goal: To develop basil strains that would be resistant to downy mildew, a disease prevalent since the last decade in epidemic proportions both in the field and in greenhouses and constituting a threat to the US and Israeli basil industry.
Activities: Domestic and wild basil accessions from around the world were screened for resistance to downy mildew. Introgression between resistant lines and sweet basil have created partially (from domesticated accessions) and fully (from wild accessions) resistant basil varieties. Embryo rescue was employed in the backcrossing breeding to enable the development of fertilized abnormal gametes into plantlets.
Outcomes: Genesis Seeds Ltd. facilitated the breeding program in Israel and began marketing two resistant varieties under the trademark “Prospera®” in 2019. Four commercial varieties that emerged from the US research group are produced and sold since 2018 by VDF Specialty Seeds. Rutgers University is due to release an additional 4 downy mildew resistant basil varieties for consumers and home gardeners.
Economic Benefit: Net Present Value of BARD’s investment is $10 million, thereof $0.1 million has already been attained. The Internal Rate of Return is 144%. Benefit-Cost Ratio is 34, thereof 1 has already been attained.
Capacity Building: 5 postgraduates are and have been involved in the research supported by this single BARD award that began in 2016.