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Retired plant pathologist donates tomato seeds to developing nations

For 71 years, one West Virginia University plant pathologist has tinkered with the tomato, turning over multiple iterations resistant to blight and other vegetable diseases. Now the fruits of Mannon Gallegly’s labor will be adored by tomato lovers across the world, particularly in developing countries marred by food supply issues.

Gallegly is donating tomato seeds to the World Vegetable Center, a global nonprofit institute for vegetable research and development. The Center aims to reduce malnutrition and poverty in developing nations by improving the production and consumption of vegetables.

Gallegly, professor emeritus, is best known for developing the West Virginia ’63, dubbed the “people’s tomato,” originally released in 1963. In 2017, he unveiled two new tomato varieties called the “West Virginia ‘17A - Mountaineer Pride” and the “West Virginia ‘17B - Mountaineer Delight.”

“Dr. Gallegly’s work demonstrates that our research and service often have impacts that last for many years beyond their conception and across many miles to improve the quality of life for everyone,” said Vice President for Research Fred King. “Initially, his work was fully engrained in the land-grant mission. Now his research has spread across the globe.”

The seeds donated by Gallegly will be resistant to fungus. In turn, the World Vegetable Center will use those seeds to develop more for developing countries. “The overall goal is to get better food sources for the poor, developing countries,” Gallegly said.

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