Research project to develop TR4 resistant banana varieties

A $9.8 million research project has been launched to develop TR4 resistant varieties of Cavendish and Goldfinger bananas.

The project is being jointly delivered by Brisbane-based Queensland University of Technology and Hort Innovation and aims to develop resistant banana varieties using gene-editing techniques.

QUT project lead, Distinguished Professor James Dale of QUT’s Centre for Agriculture and the Bioeconomy, said his team aims to develop Cavendish and Goldfinger varieties using gene-editing techniques through the five-year project.

The aim, he said, was to support food security in Australia and worldwide.

“The original Cavendish varieties is an excellent banana, but it is susceptible to some devastating diseases including Panama Disease TR4,” Professor Dale said.

“There is also concern that the banana industry worldwide is too dependent on a single variety and that greater variety diversity is highly desirable.”

Professor Dale said researchers aim to use recent advancements in gene editing to improve this variety to appeal to the Australian palate.

“We are now in a position to make very small changes in a banana genome that can have dramatic effects on the phenotype of the banana whether it is disease resistance, fruit quality or fruit taste and texture,” he said.

This research is being delivered as part of the Hort Innovation Hort Frontiers Strategic Partnership Initiative, which is better equipping Australian horticulture for the future ahead.