The banana genome project is complete and it was no simple task. Banana’s are notoriously hard to research because their seeds are so feeble that researchers must wash several acres of banana crops just to recuperate several hundred seeds which can then be turned into baby banana plants.
The banana genome project was completed by researchers in France who celebrated on Wednesday by drinking banana daiquiri’s.
Researchers mapped the DNA for a banana species known as Musa acuminata and they hope to strengthen that particular strains genetics as it comes under constant attack by noxious pests.
The goal of researchers is to create new strains of the banana which can stand up to drought, disease and invading species.
According to the L.A. Times:
“More is at stake than the future of the Western fruit bowl. The $6-billion annual banana export market represents just 15% of banana production worldwide. The other 85% is food that hundreds of millions of people grow and eat to survive. In the developing world, bananas are the fourth most important crop after rice, wheat and maize.”
The biggest problem with bananas is that they were domesticated 7,000 years ago through the growth of new shoots, a process that made them sterile so seeds would not need to be removed before eating. Edible banana’s don’t have seeds that mature, instead we just see little black dots.
Unfortunately scientists need fertility to quickly improve the banana plant. One of their biggest goals is to protect the fruit from fungal spores that are causing upwards of 50% crop losses.
While certain banana plans fare better than others some of those strains are not meant for eating in the form of a raw or even boiled food.