Antibodies in banana roots kill vermin

For about 400 million people in tropical and sub-tropical regions of Asia, Africa and Latin America bananas are part of their main food. The worldwide banana harvest, however, is in jeopardy because of vermin.

An international team of researchers around Dirk Hölscher of the Max Planck Institute for chemical ecology in Jena, has discovered that some banana plants can accumulate antibodies against the thread worm, Radopholus similis, purposefully in their affected roots. This ability determines whether a banana variety is resistant to the vermin or not.

In the body of the parasites little drops of fat are formed, which collect the antibodies and lead to their death. This knowledge may assist in the development of vermin resistant banana varieties.

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