Banana has revealed the secrets of its 520 million bases. Two French research organizations, CIRAD and CEA-Genoscope, with funding from the National Research Agency (ANR), have just finished, in two years, sequencing the species Musa acuminata which is a component in every edible variety (dessert and cooking bananas).
This work is a huge step towards understanding the genetics of and improving banana varieties, and was done within the framework of the Global Musa Genomics Consortium. The results will be published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature.
The newly available genome sequence provides access to each and every one of the plant’s genes – more than 36 000 of them – and to their position on its eleven chromosomes. This knowledge will make it much easier to identify the genes responsible for characters such as disease resistance and fruit quality. Lastly, it will be a vital tool for improving banana varieties using the many genetic resources available worldwide.
Banana is the first plant in its botanical class (monocotyledons), alongside cereals, for which whole genome sequencing (anchored on the chromosomes) has been achieved. (FL)