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  • Lauren Port

The Clemson Clean Plant Center Expands With Prunus Virus Elimination Program

The Clemson Clean Plant Center (CCPC) in Clemson South Carolina maintains a collection of highly valued peach trees for ensuring the survival of specific cultivars important to US agriculture. CCPC, formerly known as the Southeastern Budwood Program, became one of three NCPN Fruit Tree Centers in 2009.

CCPC is expanding their capabilities to include diagnostics, foundation, and now virus elimination therapy. Dr. Rabia El-Hawaz joined the CCPC team in fall of 2022 to lead efforts on virus elimination at the CCPC. As an expert in plant tissue culture with a focus on fruit

tree propagation, Dr. El-Hawaz will be fine-tuning protocols and procedures for Prunus virus elimination, with an initial focus on peach cultivars with low chill hour requirements. Current efforts are focused on testing media formulations, establishing clonal rootstock lines, and initial rounds of heat therapy on peach accessions.

This will add a new service for growers, breeders, and nurseries in the Southeast U.S. The CCPC maintains a Prunus Foundation primarily to provide cultivars with low chilling hour requirements suitable to the southern growing regions. The Center added 14 new peach accessions since 2021 to the indoor Foundation, which is housed at the Musser Fruit Research Center in South Carolina.

The indoor Foundation ensures that these important cultivars are publicly available and protected. In addition to the indoor Foundation, CCPC also maintains an expanding outdoor Foundation collection, which is tested annually for vector- and pollen-borne Prunus viruses and viroids. The addition of these new accessions bolsters the inventory of what CCPC

can offer to stakeholders, and increases the capacity of NCPN-Fruit Tree as a whole.

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