Australian researchers develop a banana richer in vitamin A

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 10th July 2017

Professor James Dale, lead researcher for the project

Australian researchers have developed a banana rich in pro-vitamin A to help address nutrition deficiencies.

It is estimated that 650, 000 – 700, 0000 children worldwide die from pro-vitamin A deficiency every year. Several hundred thousand others go blind.

The result of a decade-long research project conducted at Queensland University of Technology, the genetically modified banana was created by identifying and selecting genres to enhance the pro-vitamin A content.

The project was funded with close to $10 million dollars from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and ultimately aims to improve the nutritional content of bananas in Uganda where the fruit is a diet staple.

Professor James Dale, lead researcher for the project, said creating the banana was a significant humanitarian project.

“What we’ve done is take a gene from a banana that originated in Papua New Guinea and is naturally very high in pro-vitamin A but has small bunches, and inserted it into a Cavendish banana,” Professor Dale said.

“Over the years, we’ve been able to develop a banana that has achieved excellent pro-vitamin A levels, hence the golden-orange rather than cream-coloured flesh,” he said.

An article on the banana has been published in volume 15, issue 4 of the Plant Biotechnology Journal.


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