The results of the research carried out by Ruby Alejandra Loaiza Ruiz, a student of the Master in Agricultural Sciences of the Universidad Nacional in Medellin, have become an important step to obtaining the UN Cotové papaya variety.
Loaiza Ruiz picked up the work carried out in the nineties by agronomist engineer Carlos Reyes, professor of the Genetic Improvement Group of Andean and Tropical Species at the Universidad Nacional Medellin, and combined it with her research in plant physiology and genetic improvement to look for elite seeds of the UN Cotové variety that are resistant to the ring spot virus, a disease that limits production the most shortening the productive life of the plant.
Producers in the municipalities of Santa Fe de Antioquia and Sopetran, which traditionally grew papaya, stopped producing it because it was affected by the ring spot virus.
"There are different types of genetic improvements, some are conventional, like the one achieved by Professor Reyes in the field, reviewing and selecting plants with the best characteristics, such as early production and good height for their harvest," stated Loaiza Ruiz.
"We used seeds from local varieties and other varieties, such as the Cariflora variety that is grown in the Caribbean and in Florida (US), and that are tolerant to the ring spot virus."
When the plants grew, the best quality lines were selected, and the seeds obtained from the fruits were planted again. "Through natural pollination processes they crossed each other; the action was repeated for several continuous cycles until we obtained the desired characteristics: a plant that is resistant to the ring spot virus, that isn't too tall, and that yields a good-tasting fruit."
The UN Cotové variety was grown in Antioquia and Venezuela and had great acceptance among producers and consumers; however, since papaya is usually easily crossed, the improved seeds lost their purity, meaning that the plant was no longer resistant to the disease," she said.
Considering the importance of the work, the research groups in Ecophysiology of Tropical Agricultural Plantations and Genetic Improvement of Andean and Tropical Species of the National University in Medellín came together to rescue the scientific contribution that this variety represents in Antioquia's western area.
"My work evaluates the mechanisms that explain the development and behavior of the species in the tropical dry forest: how the environment affects it, how its photosynthesis process works, and how its breathing process occurs," the student stated.
This diagnosis allowed identifying individuals with elite characteristics that could become potential parents to begin the improvement process to obtain the UN Cotové variety again.