NewsCO.com.au–Qld uni grows Panama disease-free banana

November 14, 2017

A billion dollar banana industry at risk of a deadly disease could be saved by a scientific breakthrough from a Queensland university.

The Queensland University of Technology has genetically modified Cavendish bananas using a wild gene, resulting in strongly resistant and Panama (TR4) disease-free plants across a three-year trial.

Trial leader professor James Dale says it’s a major step towards protecting the $US12 billion ($A17 billion) Cavendish global export business.

“TR4 can remain in the soil for more than 40 years and there is no effective chemical control for it. It is a huge problem,” Prof Dale said.

“It has devastated Cavendish plantations in many parts of the world and it is spreading rapidly across Asia.

“It is a very significant threat to commercial banana production worldwide.”

The world-first trial was conducted in heavily disease-infested soil outside Humpty Doo in the Northern Territory.

A new five-year trial will take place with the aim of growing 9000 plants.

The disease was found at a far north Queensland farm earlier this year, near the Tully property that was first infected by Panama in 2015.

Originally published as Qld uni grows Panama disease-free banana

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