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CRISPR might be the banana’s only hope against a deadly fungus

September 25th, 2019 / Nature, UK

The race to engineer the next-generation banana is on. The Colombian government confirmed last month that a banana-killing fungus has invaded the Americas — the source of much of the world’s banana supply. The invasion has given new urgency to efforts to create fruit that can withstand the scourge.

Scientists are …

John Innes discovery could pave the way for disease-resistant rice crops

August 23rd, 2019 / Food Ingredients

Researchers at the John Innes Centre have come one step closer to genetically engineering rice that is resistant to a globally devastating fungus. The discovery, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, provides new insights into how rice’s immune receptors recognize and bind to fungal proteins. With a grip on how …

A tiny beetle and its deadly fungus is threatening South Africa’s trees

March 2nd, 2018 / The Conversation

Sandton is Johannesburg’s economic hub – home to numerous companies’ headquarters and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. And now it has a new, unwelcome resident: a tiny beetle that could lay waste to several tree species found in the suburb and potentially the wider Johannesburg area. This is particularly concerning, as …

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 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 …

Small molecule could have big future in food security

March 13th, 2017 / University of Arizona, US

Researchers at the University of Arizona have found a promising way to prevent the loss of millions of tons of crops to a fungus each year, offering the potential to dramatically improve food security, especially in developing countries. The team’s approach uses transgenic corn plants that produce small RNA molecules …

With a little help from fungus

December 9th, 2016 / New Phytologist

If you need help defending your tomato plants from pests, enlisting the help of a fungus might not be at the top of your list. But a recent study, published in New Phytologist, has shown that a fungus could actually be an unlikely ally in the greenhouse.
Similar to the beneficial …

Next breakthrough for farmers is a friendly fungus

December 7th, 2016 / Bloomberg Markets, US

Monsanto Co., a lightning rod for critics of modern agricultural techniques, is introducing a new feature next year for its genetically modified corn seeds that it says will not only boost yields but cut down on fertilizer use and carbon-dioxide emissions.
The seed giant, together with Danish company Novozymes A/S, has …

Charcoal rot: a threat to staple food crops in South Africa

September 2nd, 2016 / The Conversation, UK

Charcoal rot is caused by a fungus that invades various agricultural crops and gives them a charred appearance. The disease is becoming more widespread in South Africa – which is worrying, since it can dramatically affect crop yields which drives up prices and hits farmers’ incomes.
Charcoal rot attacks crops that …

Scientists race to halt banana catastrophe

March 1st, 2016 / SciDev.net, UK

Scientists in developing countries are scrambling to find a cure for a devastating fungus that threatens to wipe out the global banana trade and plunge millions of farmers into poverty. Around the world, banana farmers are fighting a losing battle against Tropical Race 4, a soil fungus that kills Cavendish …