Positive Results in 2nd Year Field Trials Addressing Black Sigatoka Disease in Bananas

Evogene & Rahan Meristem announces positive results in addressing the disease, and the utilization of the results for genome editing.
October 3, 2017
Positive Results in 2nd Year Field Trials Addressing Black Sigatoka Disease in Bananas (Enlarge)

Evogene Ltd. a leading company for the improvement of crop productivity, and Rahan Meristem (1998) Ltd., a leading fruit biotechnology and breeding company, announced today positive results in 2nd year field trials in banana demonstrating efficacy against Black Sigatoka disease. The parties also announced their agreement to utilize revolutionary genome editing technology to leverage genomic knowledge gained from the field trials for the joint development of a potentially safer and healthier product, for both growers and consumers. The end product is targeted to be classified as non-GMO, which might significantly reduce regulatory barriers and improve market access.

 

Bananas constitute one of the world’s most valuable food staples, estimated at over $2.5 billion annually. Unfortunately, Black Sigatoka affects over 50% of the crop, reducing yields by 35%-50% and leading to an estimated addition of 15-20% to final retail prices. Current methods to control Black Sigatoka include chemical fungicide applications, with the frequency of such applications steadily increasing due to resistance, that may lead to environmental and health effects. A Black Sigatoka resistance trait in banana is expected to lead to higher yields along with safer growing practices and a healthier banana for consumption with reduced chemical residual.

 

Utilizing its predictive biology computational platform, Evogene has successfully identified a number of genes, mostly of wild banana origin, predicted to have high efficacy against Black Sigatoka. Following these predictive results, Rahan validated the efficacy of several genes in two field trials, both of which exhibited an effective reduction of disease symptoms on banana trees. Rahan is continuing with gene validation, with 3rd year field trial results anticipated late next year.

 

In parallel, this proprietary information will be the “blue-print” for the parties genomic editing efforts, with Evogene identifying specific genome edits expected to impact disease resistance against Black Sigatoka, and Rahan performing the genome editing and field validation.

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