Because of its unique history and biology, banana has lagged behind most other crops with regards to genetic improvement. As a consequence, bananas are at a higher risk to diseases and pests, as well as the new uncertainties created by climate change. A good example is the recent appearance of the Panama Disease Race 4 disease in the banana producing regions of Latin America and to which Cavendish, the most widely grown banana variety in the world, is highly susceptible. This difficulty in making genetic progress has also robbed consumers of a potentially wide array of different flavors, textures and quality characteristics that could be naturally bred into new banana varieties – potentially opening new, higher value markets and further increasing demand for bananas worldwide. Remedying this situation requires rethinking how we breed bananas and the development of a new paradigm for the sustainable genetic improvement of this crop. With this goal in mind, Nature Source Improved Plants (NSIP) has joined forces with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and a host of other institutions in a project called Breeding Better Bananas which will focus initially on Matooke and Mchare type bananas important in Africa. But, the new approaches to be developed and implemented in this project have implications for banana improvement worldwide. NSIP will contribute its expertise and advanced in genomics and predictive tools to help create a new paradigm for the genetic improvement of bananas.
About Nature Source Improved Plants (NSIP)
Nature Source Improved Plants (NSIP) is an advanced optimization analytics company located in New York, USA and Chiapas, Mexico; and dedicated to the conservation, evaluation and utilization of natural genetic resources to deliver high performing plant materials and creating value and efficiency through innovative and sustainable cutting-edge technologies for the global community. NSIP is focused on maximizing genetic performance via a unique pipeline of new breeding technologies based on genomics, operations research and other advanced fields of mathematics and computer science. NSIP’s advanced genetics and breeding technologies have resulted in a multifold increase in productivity and quality across a wide variety of field, vegetable, perennial and orphan crops, while minimizing R&D costs. NSIP is also focused on the development of high throughput and high fidelity in vitro propagation techniques to meet the needs of growers – especially those involved in the production of perennial plantation crops.
Dr. Steven Tanksley (Chief Technology Officer, NSIP):
“We at NSIP are very enthusiastic and proud to be a part of this important project and to bring our advanced breeding technologies and experience to help develop a sustainable approach to the genetic improvement of banana to serve the needs of the world community.”
About the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is a non-profit institution that generates agricultural innovations to meet Africa’s most pressing challenges of hunger, malnutrition, poverty, and natural resource degradation. Working with various partners across sub-Saharan Africa, IITA improve livelihoods, enhance food and nutrition security, increase employment, and preserve natural resource integrity. The genetic improvement of bananas and plantains is crucial to IITA’s research mandate. IITA’s germplasm and breeding programs are among the most advanced in the world and are pivotal in this new collaborative endeavor.
Dr. Allan Brown (IITA Banana Breeder):
“What we have done in the past has to change if we are to address the current and future challenges to banana. We have to get better.”
For more information about IITA, please visit IITA
January 14, 2020