Research Advancements In Banana Production
Biotechnology is giving this popular fruit a new chance at survival.A steady supply of an important staple crop that is being threatened by disease may be assured, thanks, in part, to plant biotechnology.
Researchers from around the world are working to develop biotech bananas that are resistant to two of the fruit's worst enemies — black Sigatoka and Panama fungal diseases. On some banana plantations, black Sigatoka has reduced yields by 80 percent.Researchers are working to map the entire genetic code of a wild banana from East Asia in the hopes it will reveal the genes that provide resistance to these devastating diseases. Researchers say plant biotechnology could be particularly beneficial to bananas because they are very vulnerable to disease and difficult to crossbreed using conventional methods due to their complex genetic structure. 4In addition, at least half of the more than 300 varieties of bananas bred for cultivation are sterile — they've lost the ability to make seeds — and therefore can't be crossbred with a wild relative to boost resistance to disease. 5 Banana farmers typically restock their plantations by replanting below-ground offshoots of existing banana plants. Using this technique means once a disease or pest has taken hold in one plant, it can ravage an entire orchard of genetically similar plants.Tissue-cultured bananasUsing plant tissue culture — where a cell is extracted from a plant and grown in a sterile medium such as a petri dish — to grow bananas is one such technique that has worked.
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