• The Financial District


Significant progress has been made in accelerating the development of banana varieties with resistance to the Fusarium fungus, which causes the dreaded Panama disease, which destroys banana plantations around the world, the FreshFruit Portal.com reported recently.

Researchers at Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia (LIPI) and Wageningen University & Research (WUR) in The Netherlands have now succeeded in identifying resistance genes in bananas to tackle the notorious soil fungus.

The discovery of these genes paves the way for accelerating the breeding of resistant bananas without the need for lengthy and expensive phenotyping tests. Fusarium fungi are soil-borne fungi that penetrate the roots of banana plants and then colonize and block the vascular system. This causes serious wilting and ultimately kills the plant. Fusarium wilt is commonly known as Panama disease, the most devastating disease in the banana cultivation sector.

The research carried out by LIPI and WUR is therefore focused on identifying the genes responsible for such resistance. And that research has succeeded: the genes are located on chromosome 10 of the Musa acuminata variety, an ancestor of the Cavendish banana, and those genes are now being identified in more detail. This discovery makes it possible to use “markers” (small differences in DNA made visible through the use of special technology) to accelerate the development of new banana varieties without the need for lengthy and expensive phenotyping tests.

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