Hawaii Agriculture Research Center (HARC)
Improvements in crop productivity and quality historically were achieved by a combination of increased farming inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides, and genetic improvement of the crop. Genetic improvement was accomplished through the traditional methods of plant breeding. Today, biotechnology is applied in crop improvement to enhance the efficiency and broaden the boundaries of traditional methods. HARC's biotechnology team utilizes techniques such as gene transformation through particle bombardment and/or agrobacterium to achieve insect and disease resistance to solve production problems and genome mapping to enhance breeding programs.
Currently, genetic transformation projects are on sugarcane, pineapple, coffee, and papaya. This year, genome mapping research has expanded from sugarcane to other tropical fruits such as papaya, coffee, macadamia nuts, and pineapple.
Tissue culture protocols for plant regeneration and micropropagation for wide range of plants including sugarcane, pineapple, banana, taro, and woody species such as Eucalyptus and Acacia have been developed and are in use.
Cellular and molecular biology research is also conducted under funds received through the USDA. This program mainly sponsors graduate students at the University of Hawaii and post-doctoral researchers collaborating with USDA scientists at HARC. Projects include improving transformation efficiency through investigation of promoters, reducing variability of transgene expression, and increasing sucrose accumulation through cell transformation with constructs which alter soluble acid invertase activity.