The Banana Pre-breeding Project

Evaluation of drought tolerance in wild bananas from Malaysia

The project “Evaluation of drought tolerance in wild bananas from Malaysia” is implemented by the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven), Belgium; and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Nigeria. This project will run from 2016-2019.

Most edible bananas are susceptible to drought with reported yield losses up to 65%. Banana collections and breeding programs are currently not subjected to a reliable and objective evaluation for drought tolerance.

Wild varieties of banana with the AA genome configuration (as opposed to the BB genome configuration already known to be drought tolerant) are abundant in Malaysia.

This project focuses on screening this valuable germplasm for drought tolerance to unveil its potential. Two wild types collected from the dry regions of Malaysia (Musa acuminata subsp. Siamea and subsp. malaccensis) will be compared to the same subspecies collected from the wet part of the country. Additional potential tolerance alleles will be identified via functional genomics (mRNA seq) and phenotyping in the screen house to get an insight into the drought tolerance mechanism and the specific alleles. Additionally, FRIM staff will be trained at IITA Africa in field evaluation and at KU Leuven in screen house evaluation, RNA sequence analysis, embryo rescue, relevant bioinformatics and statistical analysis.

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