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Del Monte and Australian university research disease-resistant bananas

Del Monte and Australian university research disease-resistant bananas

Del Monte has teamed up with Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia to develop sustainable disease-resistant bananas. The main focus will be on breeding varieties with resistance to Tropical Race 4, a fungus that has blighted the world’s banana crops over the past decade. Del Monte’s involvement in this research is aimed at ensuring the industry’s long-term sustainability and overcoming the main challenges.

The scientific team at QUT is led by Professor James Dale, a leading researcher in the field of biotechnology with an emphasis on biofortification, molecular farming, and disease resistance, including both traditional and genetically modified bananas. Dale’s research team has already produced promising results using CRISPR techniques of gene-editing. 

Dale said: “These new gene-editing technologies represent a new opportunity for addressing the global food supply in ways we never imagined. Our partnership with Fresh Del Monte represents a great opportunity for our research to reach society in an efficient and commercially feasible manner.”

Hans Sauter, chief sustainability officer and senior VP of research and development, agricultural services for Fresh Del Monte, said: “The ability to leverage the capabilities of the team at QUT is very exciting. We see the potential with these revolutionary technologies, and we are looking forward to putting these tools to work to solve real problems facing the world. Fresh Del Monte is proud to partner with a respected research university facility like QUT in this endeavour.”

Fresh Del Monte and QUT’s collaboration is to be carried out with multiple phases over the next five years.


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India’s bananas hit by wilt disease in Bihar and beyond

india banano

India’s banana farmers are reeling from the potential devastating effects of wilt disease, which is spreading across the country. The Tropical Race 4 (TR4) fungus strain which causes wilt disease in banana plants hit the world’s number one producer first in Cavendish plantations in Bihar, but subsequently in other areas too, such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

The authorities are scrambling to develop measures that can control the spread of the disease and the issue will be uppermost in discussion taking place at the National Conference on Agriculture for Kharif Campaign later this week.

India produces over 29% of the world’s bananas, with an estimated 30 million tons grown annually on 0.8 million hectares. TR4 is a soil-borne pathogen which infests strikes the roots of plants before spreading to the vascular system and blocking transportation of water and nutrients in the stem, resulting in yellowing of leaves and eventually plant death. It can remain in soil for decades and is extremely difficult to manage.