The humble but fibre- and nutrient-rich banana is a staple food for 400-plus million people worldwide. And more than 40 percent of global banana production, including virtually all those exported, are of the large, crescent-shaped Cavendish variety.
The hugely popular Cavendish is under worldwide threat, however, from a potentially devastating, virulent fungus, Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. Cubense tropical race 4 (TR4, or Panama disease), for which “no acceptable resistant replacement has been identified”.
In a world-first field trial, a team of QUT scientists led by Distinguished Professor James Dale at QUT’s Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities grew two lines of transgenic Cavendish Grand Nain banana cultivars – one modified with RGA2, a gene isolated from a TR4-resistant South-East Asian banana subspecies; the other with a nematode-derived gene, Ced9 – in soil heavily infested with TR4.
Nov 23 2017