Bringing Diverse Bananas to Market

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Different genes provide disease resistance

Increasingly, private industries are investing in breeding new bananas for the export market that are climate-resilient, disease-resistant, and more nutritious. Scientific tools such as our high-throughput phenotyping platforms, which select varieties that are hardy and well-adapted for local climate conditions, are useful to boost (pre)breeding.

Recently, genetically modified bananas were cleared for markets in Australia and New Zealand. These Cavendish varieties, which have a gene inserted to resist TR4 disease, are being tested by a major fruit company in areas where growth has become challenging.

Policy shifts are likewise favoring new gene edited products (as an alternative to transgenic varieties), such as non-browning bananas in the Philippines that can dramatically reduce food waste.

Parallel to the efforts at the Alliance’s Americas Hub in Cali, which applies CRISPR gene editing technology to cacao and rice, our researchers based in Leuven and Montpellier are developing tailor-made technological solutions for bananas and the development of genomic resources and gene discovery pipelines essential for such biotechnological activities.

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