The wait is over! Scientists have finally sequenced the genome of banana, unraveling the secrets of its 520 million base pairs - the "letters" of the genetic code. Banana, which is the first non-grass monocot to be sequenced, alongside cereals, has been found to contain over 36,000 genes.
Sequencing the banana genome is a huge step towards understanding the genetics of and improving banana varieties, say researchers.
The humble banana, a neglected crop in terms of research investment, is under threat from a range of parasites and diseases. Adding to the woes is the very low fertility of cultivated banana varieties making experts fear that banana could be slipping towards extinction.
Now that the genome sequence of the banana's 11 chromosome has been revealed, this knowledge will make it much easier to identify the genes responsible for characters such as disease resistance and fruit quality and also aid in improving banana varieties using the many genetic resources available worldwide, according to researchers.
Two French research organizations, CIRAD and CEA-Genoscope, with funding from the National Research Agency, carried out the complete sequencing of the banana genome within the framework of the Global Musa Genomics Consortium.
Native to Southeast Asia, bananas are one of America's favorite fruits. It is the fourth most important staple food crop in the world, after rice, wheat and maize.
by RTT Staff Writer
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