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February 1st, 2019 / New Scientist, UK

Genome editing has been used to destroy a virus that lurks inside many of the bananas grown in Africa. Other teams are trying to use it to make the Cavendish bananas sold in supermarkets worldwide resistant to a disease that threatens to make it impossible to grow this variety commercially in future.

The banana streak virus can not only be spread from plant to plant by insects like most plant viruses. It also integrates its DNA into the banana’s genome. In places like west Africa, where bananas are a staple food, most bananas have now the virus lurking inside them.

When these plants are stressed by heat or drought, the virus emerges from dormancy and causes outbreaks that can destroy plantations. And there’s nothing farmers can do. Read more