Banana genome sequenced to assist crop improvement
Banana is a vital crop which is cherished across the globe and also serves as staple food in some poor countries. The complete genome of the banana has been successfully sequenced.
Why the sequencing was needed and how will it help?
As pests and diseases are imminent threats to Banana, by determining the whole sequence studies can be guided in direction of identifying those genes which can aid in disease resistance. In addition it will also help in recognizing other significant traits such as fruit quality.
How will it be helpful, particularly to India?
The study has big benefits for India at it is world’s largest producer of banana. However, most of the country’s production is consumed locally and exports contribute to only 0.5 % of the world trade in the fruit.
India has huge potential for its exports if India increases its productivity both in terms of quantity and quality. As most of the present day cultivated varieties are vulnerable to fungal, bacterial and viral diseases, it is essential to develop disease-resistant varieties.
The sequencing of DH-Pahang (Musa acuminata) has been done. DH Pahang is short for ‘doubled haploid Pahang’. DH-Pahang is a banana variety popular in south-east Asia and which is able to resist the destructive Panama disease fungus that has been spreading in Asia. If we characterize the disease resistant genes, they can be transferred to other cultivated varieties.