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Crop Biotech Update

Researchers Develop Cavendish Bananas Resistant to Panama Disease

February 24, 2021

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researcher Distinguished Professor James Dale and his team have successfully developed a line of Cavendish bananas resistant to Panama disease tropical race 4 (TR4).

Professor Dale said the field trials showed that high expression of the gene RGA2 derived from a wild banana provides resistance to TR4 disease. RGA2 is also present in Cavendish but it is not expressed. The development of the TR4 resistant line has led to a partnership with US-based international fresh fruit and vegetable leader, Fresh Del Monte, which would enable the researchers to use the gene editing tool CRISPR to develop a non-genetically modified variety of Cavendish that will also be resistant to TR4.

TR4 is caused by a fungus that survives in the soil for more than 40 years. This catastrophic disease leads to diminished crops across Asia, the Middle East, and Africa and in 2019 was found in Colombia in Latin America, the region which accounts for about 85% of the world's export bananas.

For more details, read the article in QUT Online.

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