Queensland University of Technology researchers grow world-first Panama disease-resistant bananas—14 November 2017

ARC funded researchers based at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have developed and grown modified Cavendish bananas that are resistant to the devastating soil-borne fungus Fusarium wilt tropical race 4 (TR4), also known as Panama disease.

The disease threatens the food security of more than 400 million people who rely on Cavendish bananas, particularly as the commercial plant is propagated asexually and so has very little genetic variety.  The researchers added a gene taken from a wild banana, and in a field trial the modified bananas showed robust resistance, with one new variant remaining completely disease free.

The trial, which ran from 2012 to 2015, was led by Distinguished Professor James Dale, an ARC Super Science Fellowship recipient from QUT’s Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities.  Professor Dale has said that the outcome is a major step towards protecting the US$12 billion Cavendish global export business, which is under serious threat from virulent TR4.

Australian Laureate Fellows Professor Peter Waterhouse and Professor Kerrie Mengersen were co-authors on the paper, which has been published in Nature Communications.

Image: QUT Distinguished Professor James Dale and team are developing a Cavendish banana that is resistant to Fusarium wilt tropical race 4 (TR4) or Panama disease.
Credit: QUT 

Media issued by The University of Newcastle.

Original Published Date: 
Tuesday, November 14, 2017