BANANA IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM AT RAHAN MERISTEM
Banana and plantains are one of the world's leading agricultural crops. They comprise a range of natural hybrids, originating from crosses of Musa acuminata (A) and M. balbisiana (B). All “dessert” bananas in the international trade belong to a single subgroup ‘Cavendish’. These plants are triploid, seedless, sterile and parthenocarpic. Due to the difficulty of breeding infertile plants, only a few cultivars have been introduced in the last 50 years. The advent of clonal propagation by meristem culture combined with an extensive selection program under sub-optimal climate conditions, which are practically pathogen free, has led to the singling out of “elite” clones in respect to yield and fruit quality. Our data show that compared to tropical areas, selections under marginal growing conditions allowed significant improvement of bunch weight and fruit quality. The selection was proven efficient for horticultural properties when done under conditions devoid of biotic stress. To further improve these clones, a transformation system has been developed using embryogenic calli.
Transformation of the elite clones with genes conferring resistance to fungal diseases is underway. The results of these experiments will be communicated.
Khayat, E., Duvdevani, A., Shchukin, A. and Lahav, E. (1998). BANANA IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM AT RAHAN MERISTEM. Acta Hortic. 490, 71-78