In DepthPlant Research

GM banana shows promise against deadly fungus strain

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Science  24 Nov 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6366, pp. 979
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6366.979

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A field trial in Australia has shown that genetically modified banana trees can resist the deadly fungus that causes Panama disease, which has devastated banana crops in Asia, Africa, and Australia and is a major threat for banana growers in the Americas. The Cavendish variety, which makes up more than 40% of harvests worldwide, is highly susceptible to Fusarium wilt tropical race 4. For the 3-year trial, bananas were given a resistance gene from either a wild relative or a nematode. Some lines had 100% resistance. Transgenic plants might reach some farmers in as few as 5 years, but it's unclear whether consumers will bite. A second field trial, including new lines, is underway. The work may also encourage plant breeders using traditional techniques to protect varieties with the resistance gene.