JOHANNESBURG: Bananas across Africa are reported to be infected with the ‘streak virus’ which can destroy entire plantations. Scientists mull to use powerful gene-editing tool CRISPR to make the fruit immune to a virus.
According to report, Banana streak virus is a widespread pathogen that can eventually lead to the death of the plant. It integrates its own DNA into the B genome of the banana and when a plant is in difficult conditions, such as drought or heat, it becomes active.
When it leaves its stage of dormancy it can them spread rapidly through entire fields as it can travel from plant to plant.
While CRISPR-Cas9 is a precise technique which helps academics to alter and remove sections of DNA, allowing the total eradication of the disease.
Leena Tripathi at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Kenya has reportedly managed to streamline this process using CRISPR to eliminate all traces of the virus.
The system is also being applied to help make it resistant to being reinfected in the future.
It remains uncertain if the now genetically altered food needs to be regulated and controlled by new legislation as the genetically modified crops have received widespread public resistance despite the multitude of advantages they provide.