Banana genome sequence unzipped
Last week the banana became the latest organism to have its entire genome sequenced, with the help of a Leicester academic. Professor Pat Heslop-Harrison from our Department of Biology was among the researchers contributing to a paper published in Nature.
Bananas are one of the world’s most important crops but present special problems for geneticist because they are sterile: there are no seeds in domesticated banana strains. The wild variety sequenced, Musa acuminate malaccensis, is one of three ancestral subspecies contributing to the genetic make-up of Cavendish, the triploid strain which accounts for virtually all commercially grown bananas
In an interview with the LA Times, Professor Heslop-Harrison outlines some of the oddities in the genome, including three historical duplications of chromosomes and the incorporation of genetic material from banana streak virus.
The French-led study also involved Swiss, Czech, American, Australian and Dutch researchers.
- The banana (Musa acuminata) genome and the evolution of monocotyledonous plants (doi:10.1038/nature11241)
For more on Professor Heslop-Harrison’s banana research, see: