Mr. Fernando Aurigue, Scientist I of the DOST has been doing mutation breeding for many decades. In this photo, he shows one of the propagated mutant “calachuchi” varieties.
New mutants bloom at PH nuclear agency
DOST-PNRI developed two new varieties of Plumeria through mutation breeding. The varieties are now registered with the National Seed Industry Council (NSIC), Bureau of Plant Industry and at the Mutant Variety Database of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
More popularly known as “frangipani” or temple flower in English and “calachuchi” in Filipino, Plumeria rubra in the scientific world has new babies at the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). With their enhanced looks and scent, the new blooms will surely capture the hearts of flower lovers, especially the “calachuchi” fans.
Meet “Illuminance” and “Radiance,” both borne using the nuclear technique called mutation breeding. That they were bred through irradiation technology is what makes them different from the usual neighborhood “calachuchi.”
Most “calachuchis” grown today for planting onsite start as stem cuttings. Illuminance and Radiance started as seeds. But unlike hybrids, they took on a different path - they were exposed to a certain dose of gamma rays before germination to produce novel traits.
The traits of both blooms were not planned nor designed. They were the results of the effects of radiation applied to the planting material. Radiation altered or modified the plant’s’ genetic make-up which resulted in a new trait that can be preserved through vegetative propagation of the plant or inherited by its offsprings.
To ensure that the desirable traits are stable and can be passed on to the next vegetative generations, each generation was evaluated on the evident changes.
“We observed exactly the same mutated characteristics with each vegetative generation advancement for six generations,” explained Mr. Fernando B. Aurigue, Scientist I and lead of the Ornamental Plant Mutation Breeding project. “For “calachuchi,” six vegetative generation advancements took three to six years.”
Improved desirable traits
“Illuminance” and “Radiance” have improved traits in growth habit, flower color, and scent.
The original and non-irradiated control Plumeria rubra has white blooms with yellow center. They also bear the scent that is associated with deaths and funerals that is most prominent at night until morning.
But not for these new babies. As an improved version, the flowers of Illuminance look very elegant and feminine. The white petals are lined with a purple-pink swatch that vanishes into the middle of the flower with a yellow center.
Meanwhile, Radiance glows with its summery look-- pure white petals with a radiant yellow center.
Both have a delectably sweet scent. The trees are compact in growth habit and bloom almost all year round with peak of flowering during the dry months.
Long, careful study
But a big load of patience is required in mutation breeding. Greater effort was most needed for generation advancement and stability testing parts of the study.
“The experiment actually started in 2009,” revealed Sir Nanding, as he is fondly called at PNRI. “We tried different doses of gamma rays and determined the best one.”
“At 30 Gray, traits are already evident. At higher doses, the seedlings died or the seeds did not germinate at all,” he said.
Gray is a unit of radiation dose. A dose of 1 Gy is equivalent to a unit of energy or joule deposited in a kilogram of a substance (or matter). For example, a chest X-ray comprises 20 microGrays (µGy), while eating a banana which naturally contains potassium-40 gives 0.1 µGy.
The right radiation dose applied in the right conditions produced the beautiful mutants whose traits consistently came through across at least six vegetative generations.
“Plumeria ‘Illuminance’ (NSIC 2021 Or 101) and P. ‘Radiance’ (NSIC 2021 Or 102) are now registered with the IAEA Mutant Variety Database with ID numbers 4943 and 4944, respectively,” informed Sir Nanding.
He likewise acknowledges the help of Mr. Luis Mauricio Alfonzo-Godoy of IAEA for facilitating the processing of the Mutant Variety Registration Forms.
PNRI, ITDI sign accord for research dev’t, cooperation
With the aim of developing mutually beneficial and meaningful research, development, and cooperation related to their respective mandates, the DOST - Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) and the Industrial Technology Development Institute, through the Advanced Device and Materials Testing Laboratory (Admatel), signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Monday, August 22, 2022, at the DOST Compound, General Santos Avenue, Bicutan, Taguig.
The partnership seeks to strengthen collaboration on individual research projects between the two institutions. It also aims to reinforce the exchange of scientific and technical information regarding the agreed research projects.
The MOU was signed by DOST-PNRI Director Dr. Carlo A. Arcilla and DOST-ITDI Director Dr. Annabelle V. Briones. Witnesses include Dr. Vallerie Ann I. Samson, deputy director of PNRI, and Dr. Araceli Monsada, laboratory manager of ADMATEL.
The PNRI’s Nuclear Materials Research Section which will implement the project on PNRI’s side is composed of Dr. Angel T. Bautista VII, Dr. Americus Perez, and Alexandria Tanciongco who presented the annexes of the MOU to further discuss the framework for the collaborative research projects. (By Nuclear Materials Research Section, DOST-PNRI)
The mango pulp weevil
Under a stereomicroscope, a DOST-PNRI researcher separates male and female MPWs for mating and fecundity study
PH nuclear agency sets international standard for mango pest treatment
As a result of a breakthrough study, the standard for the quarantine treatment of a persistent mango pest is finally set by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI). Said development now gives Philippine mangoes a better chance at the global market and a push for the local mango industry as well.
Said treatment involves irradiating mangoes at a certain dose that will make the Sternochetus frigidus (Fabr.), or mango pulp weevil (MPW), sterile.
“This ensures that the weevil will no longer be able to reproduce,” says Glenda Obra of PNRI’s Agriculture Research Section and the leader of the research “Establishment of radiation dose for quarantine treatment of mango pulp weevil (MPW), Sternochetus frigidus Fabr in Philippine Mango.” The study was conducted in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Regional Field Unit 4B.
As the PNRI study found, irradiating the pest using 165 Gy dose sterilizes it, and prevents the production of the next generation of MPW. This breakthrough opened US markets for Philippine mango exports.
“Other countries use the generic dose of 400 Gy, but at this dose, the quality of our Philippine Carabao or Philippine Super Mango will be affected,” explains Obra. “Our mango variety is more sensitive because of its thin peel.”
S. frigidus, or bukbok ng mangga in Tagalog, is most destructive during the larval stage as it feeds and develops on the sweet mango pulp. According to literature, S. frigidus was probably introduced in 1987 from Borneo into the southern part of Palawan. Since then, the government put the island group under quarantine to prevent the spread of the pest. This move dropped the overall mango production in Palawan by 30%.
As the pests cannot be easily seen through visual inspection, they can only be controlled through postharvest treatment. The usual procedure is fumigation or cold heat, but this has not been successful when used to treat S. mangiferae, a close relative of the S. frigidus.
The only viable alternative to disinfest S. frigidus, is through irradiation which, according to WHO, does not leave residues and does not make the food harmful to human health.
In 2014, the USDA-Animal Plant Health Inspection Service included the PNRI-set irradiation treatment in the USDA’s Plant Protection Quarantine Treatment Manual. “The dose can also be used to control fruit fly. This provided the scientific basis that eventually led to the USDA Final Rule,” adds Obra.
Eventually, the project team submitted its proposed irradiation treatment of S. frigidus to the FAO-International Plant Protection Convention in 2017 through the Philippine Bureau of Plant Industry’s National Plant Protection Office.
After a series of annual reviews, rigorous evaluations by the Technical Panel of Phytosanitary Treatment, and two public consultations held through the IPPC Online Comment System, the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM) finally recommended and publicly endorsed the adoption and inclusion of the treatment in the International Standard of Phytosanitary Measures 28 in April 2022.
The CPM endorsement put DOST-PNRI on the map as a first-mover in the country in establishing a global standard in disinfestation through irradiation. “It is the first time for the Philippines to have a phytosanitary treatment, specifically one involving irradiation, approved and adopted by the FAO-IPPC,” says Obra. (Framelia V. Anonas, DOST-PNRI)
DOST-PNRI researchers dissect mangoes infested by the Mango Pulp Weevil at the Institute’s MPW Holding Laboratory
PNRI wins LIKHA Award First Prize at 2022 NICE
Congratulations to the scientists and researchers of the DOST - Philippine Nuclear Research Institute for another big win during the 2022 National Invention Contest and Exhibits (NICE)!
PNRI Chemistry Research Section's very own Career Scientist I Ms. Charito Aranilla, Science Research Specialists Ms. Bin Jeremiah Barba and Ms. Lorna Relleve and PNRI Atomic Research Division Chief and Career Scientist III Dr. Lucille Abad were awarded the First Prize for the LIKHA Award for Outstanding Creative Research - Government-Funded category.
Their entry entitled "Life-Saving Hemostatic Granules and Dressing for Quick Control of Traumatic Bleeding" pioneered research on hemostatic agents from radiation-processed polymeric materials that can stop traumatic bleeding in emergency situations, which may prove to be an invaluable life-saving material for the health and medical sectors, among others.
Hosted biennially by the Technology Application and Promotion Institute, NICE recognizes the best and the brightest Filipino inventions, innovations, and researches in the Philippines and their contributions to national development.
2022 NICE Winners
NICE 2022 Awarding and Closing Ceremonies