Cellular Biology and Biotechnology Including Mutation Techniques for Creation of New Useful Banana Genotypes


The main objective of this CRP is to make bananas a more stable and profitable crop for smallholder producers through genetic improvement.


The Joint FAO/IAEA Centre has been actively engaged in banana improvement programmes in many countries. Through various CRPs and Technical Co-operation Projects, in vitro mutation techniques for Musa species were developed and transferred to plant breeders in developing countries. This was made possible mainly through scientific support from the FAO/IAEA's Agriculture and Biotechnology Laboratory where banana in vitro culture methods were improved and adapted to the mutation approach. This CRP was established in November 1994, following the initiative of the World Bank on the Banana Improvement Project (BIP). The development of innovative breeding approaches, including modern biotechnology, has opened new possibilities for genetic manipulation of plant material, but the introduction of these methods into conventional banana breeding programmes to develop superior cultivars requires a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional approach.

Additional support from the Belgian Government allowed an increase in the number of participants including two institutes from Belgium, the provision of fellowships for scientists from developing countries and stimulation of banana research at the FAO/IAEA Agricultural and Biotechnology Laboratory in Seibersdorf.

Research focusses on the development of innovative approaches to support conventional breeding programmes. In particular: radiation induced mutations and in vitro culture methods are being integrated into conventional breeding of banana to generate desired variation, and to promote the development of methods for large scale and rapid multiplication of the mutants/segregants through micropropagation and somatic embryogenesis. Also molecular markers are being developed for rapid characterization of genotypes, and in the future, of desired characters, and rapid methods are being investigated for genome ploidy level manipulation (this work uses molecular cytogenetic methods and flow cytophotometry).The transgenic approach is being attempted for transferring desired genes, including genes for disease resistance to the Cavendish type of bananas.


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  • Report of the First RCM, Vienna, Austria, 1995
  • Report of the Second RCM, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 1997
  • Report of the Third RCM, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 4-8 October 1999. PP 1-167. IAEA-312-D2.RC.579.3. (2001).

Project Officer:

P.J.L. Lagoda