University of the Philippines Los Baños
Wednesday, 04 April 2018 11:09

UPLB scientist shares classical plant breeding, biotech strategies at SEARCA lecture


Dr. Pablito M. Magdalita, professor at the College of Agriculture and Food Science and UP Scientist II, discussed various techniques to improve plant varieties at the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) Regional Professorial Chair Lecture on March 26.

In his lecture entitled “Classical breeding and biotechnology strategies for improvement of selected fruit crops for food security and rural development,” Dr. Magdalita highlighted both conventional (breeding multi-generational plants) and biotechnology-assisted (identifying and isolating plant genes) techniques in plant breeding that can be used to produce better fruits for farmers.

Dr. Magdalita is credited for developing Papaya hybrids which were resistant to papaya ringspot virus (PRSV) and multiplying them through micropropagation, or reproducing a plant from its tissue samples. PRSV is a major issue for papaya production and can affect entire farms as the virus is spread by aphids that feed from one plant to another.

Dr. Magdalita also discussed other plant breeding techniques that were successfully demonstrated to farmers, such as early sex determination of papaya plants, intercropping, hybrid seed production, and dwarfing papayas by bending. These techniques can enable farmers to have more control in their fruit production and produce more fruits that they can sell.

The lecture culminated Dr. Magdalita’s SEARCA Regional Professorial Chair Grant, which he received with six other Southeast Asian academics on May 31, 2017.

To date, 28 exemplary agricultural and rural development scholars from Southeast Asia have received the said Grant since it was opened in 2011.

Dr. Ruben L. Villareal, former UPLB Chancellor and former director of SEARCA, graced the event and facilitated the open forum that followed the lecture. (Jessa Jael S. Arana)