No banana cultivars in Central and Eastern Africa have shown any resistance to BXW despite some varieties, such as those in the 'Pisang Awak' region, showing increased susceptibility.
However, Scientists have recently transferred two genes from sweet green pepper to bananas in order to confer resistance to BXW. This is a promising step forward in circumventing the time consuming and expensive practices of disease management such as 'debudding'.
Pflp and Hrap genes encoding the proteins plant ferredoxin-like amphipathic protein (pflp) and hypersensitive response-assisting protein (hrap) were isolated from sweet pepper and introduced to the genome of East African bananas using genetic engineering. The two proteins induced a hypersensitive response and systemic acquired resistance within the banana plant after being exposed to the bacterial pathogen. It was reported that over half of the transgenic bananas were resistant to BXW.
The vast majority of the bananas currently grown and consumed were not conventionally bred but are selections made over probably thousands of years from naturally occurring hybrids. Cultivated bananas are very nearly sterile and as a consequence are not propagated from seed but rather through vegetative propagation, primarily suckers as well as more recently micropropagated or tissue cultured bananas. These factors, very old selections, near sterility and vegetative propagation, mean that these bananas have not been genetically improved either for resistance or improved quality and are becoming increasing in affected by serious pests and diseases.
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