BANANA growers worldwide are in positive mood after scientists unveiled the first Cavendish bananas with resistance to their industry's bane, Panama disease.

The soil-borne disease is caused by a fungal pathogen of the fusarium line, TR4, and affects the roots of banana plants. Also known as fusarium wilt, back in the 1950s a virulent strain of this wilt wiped out almost all bananas in plantations in Central and South America.

Researchers from Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, designed the genetically modified commercial bananas with resistance to Panama disease using genes from wild banana plants.

In the world’s first field trial with genetically modified banana plants, conducted in heavily TR4-infested soil, one Cavendish line enhanced with a gene taken from a wild banana remained completely TR4 free, while three other lines showed robust resistance.

Trials rans between 2012 and 2015 and were conducted by professor James Dale from Queensland University of Technology on a commercial banana plantation outside Humpty Doo in the northern territory of Australia previously affected by the disease.