A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands
This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.
The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.
SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).
PAPGREN coordination and support
Mr William Wigmore
Mr Adelino S. Lorens
Dr Lois Englberger
Mr Apisai Ucuboi
Dr Maurice Wong
Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
Mr Frederick Muller
Mr Herman Francisco
Ms Rosa Kambuou
Ms Laisene Samuelu
Mr Jimi Saelea
Mr Tony Jansen
Mr Finao Pole
Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
Interested in GIS?
Wednesday, January 15, 2003
Posted 3:50 PM by Luigi
From The Independent
'Decrepit' banana faces extinction in 10 years
By Charles Arthur, Technology Editor
The banana could slide into extinction within 10 years because it is "genetically decrepit", scientists will warn today.
Because edible bananas are sterile mutants, new varieties cannot easily be produced by natural methods, leaving the fruit vulnerable to attack from pests and disease.
In the 1950s, the once dominant Gros Michel banana was wiped out by a disease caused by a soil fungus. Its successor, the Cavendish, is now threatened by another fungal disease, black Sigatoka. With nothing readily available to replace the Cavendish, the banana business has reached crisis point. According to a report in New Scientist magazine today, it could be gone in 10 years.
"In some ways, the banana today resembles the potato before blight brought famine to Ireland a century and a half ago," said the magazine.
Wild bananas, called Musa acuminata, contain a mass of hard seeds that make them virtually inedible. About 10,000 years ago in Asia, stone age man found a mutant edible variety, without seeds, and grew it using cuttings from the stems. That means that each banana is virtually genetically identical – meaning producing new varieties resistant to pests and diseases is very difficult.
"When some pest or disease comes along, severe epidemics can occur," Geoff Hawtin of the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, based in Rome, told New Scientist.
Emile Frison, head of the International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain (INIBAP) in Montpellier, France, said banana diseases were becoming increasingly difficult to control.
"As soon as you bring in a new fungicide, they develop resistance," he said. "One thing we can be sure of is the Sigatoka won't lose in this battle."
Since starting in Fiji in 1963, Black Sigatoka has spread and has destroyed most of the banana fields in Amazonia. That could cut production there by up to 70 per cent, in the world's second-largest growing area for bananas, after China.
Scientists and planters working on solutions are unable to agree whether to produce genetically modified bananas, or develop fungicide.
"Biotechnology to produce GM bananas resistant to fungi is expensive and there are serious questions about consumer acceptance," said David McLaughlin, senior director of environmental affairs for the banana company Chiquita.
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