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Use of CRISPR systems in plant genome editing: toward new opportunities in agriculture

November 21st, 2017 / Emerging Topics in Life Sciences, UK

Initially discovered in bacteria and archaea, CRISPR–Cas9 is an adaptive immune system found in prokaryotes. In 2012, scientists found a way to use it as a genome editing tool. In 2013, its application in plants was successfully achieved. This breakthrough has opened up many new opportunities for researchers, including the …

GM banana shows promise against deadly fungus strain

November 20th, 2017 / Science, US

A field trial in Australia has shown that genetically modified banana trees can resist the deadly fungus that causes Panama disease, which has devastated banana crops in Asia, Africa, and Australia and is a major threat for banana growers in the Americas. The transgenic plants might reach some farmers in …

High-tech tracker to battle ancient wheat plague

November 16th, 2017 / AllAfrica

“People can walk through an infected field, unknowingly pick up a few spores on their clothes, then get on a plane and accidentally take the disease to other countries or continents”
The tracking technology used to halt the deadly Ebola and Zika viruses could now be turned against wheat rust as …

Wheat leaf disease, a potential threat

November 14th, 2017 / Farmers' Weekly, South Africa

Outbreaks of a previously unknown wheat leaf disease have been reported in South Africa, which could have a serious impact on food security and sustainable wheat production in the country.
The disease involved severe discolouration of wheat leaves and, according to Dr Tarekegn Terefe, senior researcher at ARC-Small Grain in Bethlehem, …

App ‘trained’ to spot crop disease, alert farmers

November 14th, 2017 / SciDev.net

A team of scientists has received US$100,000 grant to refine a mobile application (app) that uses artificial intelligence to diagnose crop diseases, and aims to help millions of African smallholders.
The CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas team won the grant during big data conference in Colombia on 21 …

Government vows to tackle armyworm

November 5th, 2017 / The Herald, Zimbabwe

Government has secured knapsack sprayers that will be distributed to smallholder farmers in an attempt to fight the risk which might be caused by the fall armyworm this season. This development comes after chiefs told President Mugabe when he attended their annual meeting in Bulawayo last week that their subjects …

Gene silencing could control disease, contamination in wheat and other crops

November 5th, 2017 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Fusarium graminearum is a major fungal pathogen of cereals worldwide, causing seedling, stem base and floral diseases, including Fusarium Head Blight (FHB). In addition to yield and quality losses, FHB contaminates cereal grain with mycotoxins, including deoxynivalenol (DON), which are harmful to human, animal and ecosystem health. Currently, FHB control …

Scientists engineer cowpea to produce Bt protein against raruca pod borer

November 2nd, 2017 / ISAAA, US

In a report in Plant Cell Tissue and Organ Culture (PCTOC), scientists have engineered cowpea — one of the most important sources of vegetable protein for rural families in Sub-Saharan Africa — to produce a Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) protein, which protects against the Maruca pod borer that plagues the crop. …

Scientists develop groundnut resistant to aflatoxin

November 2nd, 2017 / Phys.org

Scientists at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, in St. Louis, MO and their collaborators at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad, India, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Louisiana State University have made a significant research breakthrough by suppressing the aflatoxin-producing fungus …

Viewpoint: Why GMO crops are planet’s best ecological choice

November 1st, 2017 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Food insecurity and malnutrition are serious concerns across the globe. Over 796 million people out of a total 7.3 billion population are suffering from chronic undernourishment. And millions lose their lives due to inadequate consumption of basic nutrients. One of the major challenges before the food and agricultural industry is …