Black Sigatoka resistant banana varieties
Black Sigatoka disease (BSD) is an airborne fungal disease which cripples E. African banana crop production. Fungicide treatments are beyond the reach of many resource-constrained subsistence farmers, and when they are used, fungicides present significant environmental and health hazards. Improving disease resistance in banana is challenging and new varieties cannot be produced through conventional cross-breeding as Cavendish bananas are triploid and sterile.Project goal
In partnership with the IITA, develop and demonstrate, two new non-transgenic BSD resistant varieties of banana (Grand Naine, Dwarf Cavendish) in a relevant economic and environmental setting. Using our proprietary GEiGS and NTC systems we will create programmable resistance to BSD utilizing RNAi within the plant cell. Expected outcome
E. African growers (notably in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania) will increase productivity (10‒25%) by enabling closer spacing of individual plants and reduced harvest loss (BSD can decimate up to 60% of harvest weight).