CRISPR used to fight virus hiding inside banana genome

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Image Credit: Dan Foy

Genome editing has been used to destroy a virus that lurks inside many of the bananas grown in Africa. Other teams are trying to use it to make the Cavendish bananas sold in supermarkets worldwide resistant to a disease that threatens to make it impossible to grow this variety commercially in future.

The banana streak virus….integrates its DNA into the banana’s genome….When these plants are stressed by heat or drought, the virus emerges from dormancy and causes outbreaks that can destroy plantations….

But Leena Tripathi at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Kenya has now used the CRISPR genome editing method to target and destroy the viral DNA inside the genome of a banana variety called Gonja Manjaya. The plan is to use these plants to breed virus-free plants for farmers. Her team is also using CRISPR to make the bananas resistant to the virus….

Related article:  Like it or not, the ‘Pandora’s box’ of gene-edited babies has been opened

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The banana streak virus does not infect the popular Cavendish banana. But a fungal strain called Tropical Race 4 is devastating Cavendish plantations as it spreads around the world….Because the Cavendish is a sterile mutant that can only be propagated by cloning, there is no way to breed resistant varieties. Instead, several teams worldwide are trying to use CRISPR to make it resistant to Tropical Race 4.

Read full, original article: Virus lurking inside banana genome has been destroyed with CRISPR

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