Virus lurking inside banana genome has been destroyed with CRISPR

A virus that inserts itself into the genome of a type of banana plagues plantations in Africa, but CRISPR gene editing can be used to eliminate the viral DNA. Genome editing has been used to destroy a virus that lurks inside many of the bananas grown in Africa. Other teams are trying to use it to make the Cavendish bananas sold in supermarkets worldwide resistant to a disease that threatens to make it impossible to grow this variety commercially in future.


An Australian team has already genetically engineered the Cavendish to make it resistant by adding a gene from a wild banana. But because of the opposition to GM food worldwide, this variety may never be grown commercially. Using CRISPR is seen as preferable because some countries including the US do not regard genome edited plants as transgenic, depending on what has been done. Because the Cavendish is a sterile mutant that can only be propagated by cloning, there is no way to breed resistant varieties. Instead, several teams worldwide are trying to use CRISPR to make it resistant to Tropical Race 4.


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