Banana biotechnology

The Centre for Agriculture and the Bioeconomy's Banana Biotechnology Program is a global leader in agricultural technology innovations, specifically centring on the genetic improvement of bananas, one of the top 10 world food crops. It brings together recent advances in banana genomics and molecular breeding to provide real world solutions to the banana industry globally. The program has also made significant advances in solving nutritional and food security-related problems affecting developing countries especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

Real-world impact

Our Collaborators

The program currently has active and extensive collaborations with the National Agricultural Research Organisation of Uganda for biofortification, the Malawi Department of Agricultural Research Services and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture in Kenya for banana bunchy top virus (BBTV) resistance and LaManna Premier Group, North Queensland Banana Research and Australian Banana Research for fusarium wilt tropical race 4 (TR4) resistance. Previous productive collaborations included projects in India, Vietnam, Thailand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and USA.

Our Students

Students who have completed their PhD or MSc through the program come from very diverse backgrounds including Australia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Tahiti, Taiwan, Thailand, Uganda, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

Our Funding

We greatly appreciate the commitment and excellent support from:

Our projects

Our research program team is currently working on the following projects.

QUT collaborated with Uganda's National Agricultural Research Organisation, funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to develop a world first, nutrient dense Golden Banana which is rich in pro-vitamin A. This project’s mission is to alleviate micronutrient deficiencies in Uganda through biofortification of bananas, their staple food, and is now in its last phase of development leading to release of these new lifesaving banana varieties in Uganda.

We have developed transgenic Cavendish bananas with resistance to the devastating soil-borne fungus Fusarium wilt tropical race 4 (TR4). TR4 is moving around the world and has the capacity to kill more that 50% of the bananas grown worldwide, and poses a major threat to the US$15B banana global export industry.

With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, our team, in collaboration with researchers from Malawi and Kenya, has been working to develop Cavendish bananas with resistance to banana bunchy top disease.

Our team is investing heavily in developing genomic resources and gene editing technologies to be strategically positioned to lead the major innovations for banana improvement for the next decade.

Program team

Professor Rob Harding

Deputy Program Leader

Ms Joanne Simpkins

Program Manager

Dr Benjamin Dugdale

Chief Investigator

Dr Jean-Yves Paul

Chief Investigator

Dr Pradeep Deo

Chief Investigator

Dr Upendra Shekhawat

Chief Investigator

Dr Paul Muhindira

Chief Investigator

Dr Dawit Kidanemariam

Chief Investigator

Ms Jen Kleidon

Senior Research Assistant

Ms Maiko Kato

Senior Research Assistant

Mr Anthony Brinin

Research Assistant

Ms Amba Lawrence

Research Assistant

Ms Georgie Stephan

Research Assistant

Ms Kirsten Kenney

Research Assistant

Ms Tess James

Research Assistant

Contact us

Centre for Agriculture and the Bioeconomy

Level 3, H Block
Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane QLD 4000 Australia

Postal address

Centre for Agriculture and the Bioeconomy
GPO Box 2434
Brisbane QLD 4001