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?
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Posted 1:53 PM by Tevita
Evaluating the wild and cultivated diversity
From: Bioversity International
The main justification for investing in conserving banana diversity in field and in vitro genebanks is that it will be used, if not today, then one day. But for germplasm to be useful to the widest range of users possible, it is essential to understand its many attributes (botanical, agronomic, nutritional, resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses, processing quality, etc).
Unfortunately, too little is known about the vast majority of banana cultivars, especially rarer varieties that are less marketable or restricted to particular indigenous groups or geographical areas which are coming under increasing more global influences. These trends exacerbate the underutilization of diversity.
The importance of having data on cultivars is illustrated by the story of the karat banana in the Pacific Island of Pohnpei, Micronesia. The cultivar was languishing in neglect in a few restricted sites for several decades until analysis was carried out on its micronutrient content. The fruit has such high levels of provitamin A carotenoids that it has the potential to play a key role in improving the nutritional status of children in the developing world. Karat has since become an emblem for Pohnpei.
Screening for nutritional value
Bioversity has initiated a process of large-scale screening of traditional cultivars and processed dishes for micronutrients—carotenoids, iron and zinc—as part of the HarvestPlus Challenge Programme. Under this initiative, cultivars are being sorted according to the orangeness of the fruit pulp, and further analysed by spectrophotometry and high performance liquid chromotography by partners at the Centre africain de recherches sur bananiers et plantains and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Cameroon, and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium.
Preliminary results suggest that several popular cultivars consumed in Cameroon have more than ten times the carotenoids content of Cavendish dessert bananas. Consuming around two orange-fleshed plantain fruit a day has the potential of providing an adult’s recommended vitamin A requirement. More studies are needed to determine if these carotenoids are retained after cooking or processing, and are actually absorbed and transformed into vitamin A by the consumer.
Bioversity continues to seek funds and opportunities for characterizing and evaluating a broad range of germplasm for performance and traits as part of the ongoing efforts to rationalize and add value to conservation efforts.
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Agrobiodiversity Weblog: For discussions of conservation and sustainable use of the genetic resources of crops, livestock and their wild relatives.