QUT researchers are developing essential food crops that can thrive in drought, resist disease, and deliver much-needed nutrition to people all over the world.
Save essential foods from disease
Bananas are a global staple and one of the top five most essential food crops.
But this critical food source is at risk from Panama disease tropical race 4 (TR4) and Banana bunchy top virus (BBTV) infection, diseases which have already ravaged many regions of the world.
TR4 and BBTV spread quickly and can destroy an entire season’s yield. In places like sub-Saharan Africa where bananas are an essential part of the diet and a staple crop, the outcome is devastating.
These diseases threaten to not only wipe out a major global food source, but also destroy the livelihoods of subsistence farmers and the communities who rely on these crops to survive.
As world leaders in banana disease research and development, QUT experts are working to develop genetically enhanced ‘super’ bananas that are resistant to both TR4 and BBTV.
Improve food security with genetics
QUT is using genetic modification and gene editing to produce disease-resistant bananas.
Lead researcher, Professor James Dale, and his team have already developed a (pro-)Vitamin A-enriched banana variety. This breakthrough will improve nutrition and prevent vitamin A deficiency to address the associated deaths of around 670,000 and blindness in around 400,000 children in developing countries each year.
Striving to prevent the wipe out of bananas from TR4 and BBTV, the team has conducted successful field trials for individual disease resistance in the Northern Territory and Malawi. The next step is to combine resistance so that irrespective of which disease strikes, this staple crop will survive.
Your support for this project will help to avert a major food crisis and revive farmers’ income, with major economic and social benefits for people living in developing countries.
Your gift will help:
- prevent one of the world’s staple food crops being wiped out by disease
- secure reliable income for subsistence farmers
- produce bananas that are resistant to both TR4 and BBTV. This research is estimated to take five years and cost approximately AUD $5.5 million
- provide world-class education, training and experience for African scientists involved in the project.