The GLP is committed to full transparency. Download and review our just-released 2019 Annual Report.

World’s favorite banana faces extinction. Are GMOs, CRISPR the final hope?

| | September 25, 2019

The race to engineer the next-generation banana is on. The Colombian government confirmed [in August] that a banana-killing fungus has invaded the Americas — the source of much of the world’s banana supply. The invasion has given new urgency to efforts to create fruit that can withstand the scourge.

Scientists are using a mix of approaches to save the banana. A team in Australia has inserted a gene from wild bananas into the top commercial variety — known as the Cavendish — and are currently testing these modified bananas in field trials. Researchers are also turning to the powerful, precise gene-editing tool CRISPR to boost the Cavendish’s resilience against the fungus, known as Fusarium wilt tropical race 4 (TR4).

Related article:  'GMOs are banned in Europe' and 3 other popular biotech crop myths busted

In an attempt to make biotech bananas more palatable to regulators, [James Dale, a biotechnologist at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia] is …. editing the Cavendish’s genome with CRISPR to boost its resilience to TR4, instead of inserting foreign genes.

Specifically, he’s trying to turn on a dormant gene in the Cavendish that confers resistance to TR4 — the same gene that he identified in M. acuminate. But the work is still in its early stages. “It’ll be a couple of years before these get into the field for trials,” Dale says.

Read full, original article: CRISPR might be the banana’s only hope against a deadly fungus

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Click the link above to read the full, original article.
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.

Send this to a friend