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Genoscope (part of the Genomic Institute of the CEA in Evry, France) and the CIRAD (Montpellier) are starting to perform the complete sequencing of the banana genome. With an annual production of over 100 million tons, the banana is one of man’s principal nutritional commodities. It is consumed at practically all latitudes and longitudes of the planet. However, its production is plagued by diseases and insects which require the massive utilization of pesticides
The total cost will be 3.7 million euros, financed equally by the ANR (Genomic Program) and the two research organizations, GENOSCOPE/IG/CEA and CIRAD. The sequencing of the banana is being carried out in the framework of an international public consortium for the genomics of the banana, (Global MUSA GENOMICS Consortium) (with the notable participation of Bioversity International and the Generation Challenge Program for the libraries, BACs, and of Plant Research International and EMBRAPA for the BAC end sequencing).
The species of banana chosen (Musa acuminata, accession Pahang HD) represents the species which enters into the composition of dessert and cooking bananas; its genome consists of 600 million base pairs, spread over 11 different chromosomes, each present in two identical copies (homozygote).
The sequencing operation will take two years and lead to the establishment of a catalog of genes contained in the banana. The combined use of the new Titanium® high throughput sequencing technology as a complement to traditional sequencing, and the complete homozygosity of the banana strain created by CIRAD will permit the production of a final sequence of very high quality, which will guarantee the exhaustive identification of the genes. This sequencing project constitutes a technological first, applied to a genome which is 4 times the size of the first plant to be sequenced in 2000.
The results will be deposited in public databases, accessible to all scientists in both academic and private sectors of the agribusiness. This will lead to important and rapid progress in the genetics of the banana, forming a basis for the improvement and development of new varieties with a broad genetic base, combining productivity, quality of the fruit and resistance to diseases and parasites. The goal is thus a sustainable agriculture, respectful of the environment, thanks to the reduction of necessary intrants, and especially pesticides.