A hybrid of basil that is highly resistant to Downy Mildew has been developed by researchers at Bar-Ilan University. The team is headed by Israeli Prize-winning scientist Professor Yigal Cohen and Dr. Yariv Ben-Na'im. The new species of basil could diminish concerns of farmers worldwide.
Downy Mildew stems from a fungus-like pathogen, called Pernospora belbahrii, that causes severe damage to sweet basil crops across the globe. It was first discovered in Switzerland 16 years ago and spread from there to all corners of the Earth, eventually landing in Israel in 2011.
"Israel is one of the major winter exporters of fresh herbs to Europe, Russia and the eastern United States. The Israeli fresh herb market is estimated to export nearly 70 million Euros per year, 50% of which is based on sweet basil. Most of the basil in Israel is grown in the country’s hottest regions - the Arava, Jordan Valley, Beit Shean Valley and the Negev."
To combat this threat farmers turned to using pesticides to prevent Downy Mildew from spreading throughout their crops, although this particular disease showed to be unaffected by many of the pesticides available for farmers to use. However, with the new hybrid discovery farmers will be able to eradicate the pathogen from affecting their basil crops, diminishing the epidemic facing Israeli basil farmers today.