There’s Always Genes IN the Banana Diagram
I know it can be pretty confusing to post random images from research manuscripts without any context to why they’re interesting or significant, but this is a pretty genius way of delivering a bunch of banana data all at once (see what I did there?).
As more and more genomes are fully sequenced, there’s a lot of focus being put on how many genes and other DNA clusters are shared between distantly (or closely) related organisms. This figure represents how many genes the wild banana (Musa acuminata) shares with five of its monocot cousins.
We’ve talked a bit about Venn diagrams before, and up until now I had only seen five categories represented on one chart. But with the addition of this banana, that record stands at six. The banana genome was recently sequenced (you can see the paper here if you have a subscription to Nature, which no one outside of a college campus does), with hopes that understanding its makeup can help toughen up the delicate, weakened commercial crop we eat by the truckload.
You see, since their domestication 7,000 years ago, wild bananas have been extensively selected, crossed and inbred to create the soft, sweet yellow banana that we see in stores today. But as a result of this selective breeding, modern bananas have almost no genetic diversity, making them extremely vulnerable to pests and disease. Viruses and infection are actually threatening to eradicate banana crops worldwide within 20 years, which would be a very disappointing blow to my breakfast table.
By understanding how the wild banana’s genes are organized and how they function, perhaps we can engineer or breed a fruit to last.
Source: Boing Boing