So A-Peel-ing

Bananas just drive me… BANANAS!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Banana bread, banana smoothies, bananas foster – YUM! But our delicious bananas are in DANGER. A new disease called BXW is wreaking havoc on banana plants, especially in Africa. 

Enter Jaindra Tripathi and colleagues at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Kenya. 

The researchers knew of a gene mutation in barley that makes them extra tough against sickness. Could it also protect bananas? They inserted mutant barley genes into banana plants using the genetic editing tool CRISPR. They then tested how well these banana plants grew. 

Results? In pots, the modified banana plants grew just as well as normal ones! Even better, some of them had as high as ONE HUNDRED PERCENT resistance to BXW! 

The team hopes these new plants could be the solution to the banana blitz! However, They’re not ready to hit the market just yet! Scientists still need to see how well they grow in fields. 

Making the world safe for bananas… Now that’s one a-PEEL-ing thought!

Reference: Tripathi, J. N., Ntui, V. O., Shah, T., & Tripathi, L. (2021). CRISPR/Cas9‐mediated editing of DMR6 Orthologue in banana ( MUSA SPP.) CONFERS enhanced resistance to bacterial disease. Plant Biotechnology Journal, 19(7), 1291–1293.