Development of regenerable cell suspensions
Activities for establishing transformable and regenerable embryogenic cell suspensions (ECS), the starter banana material for molecular breeding improvement are ongoing. ECS of two important varieties 1) Nakitembe cell lines NKT745 and NKT 746 (Plate 2) and Gonja Nakatasanse are available for transformation. Dessert banana ECS of cultivar Sukali Ndizi and recently those of Gros Michel (Bogoya) have been established at NARL Kawanda. They are routinely subcultured by transferring into fresh medium after every 7-10 days.
The vast majority of the bananas currently grown and consumed were not conventionally bred but are selections made over probably thousands of years from naturally occurring hybrids. Cultivated bananas are very nearly sterile and as a consequence are not propagated from seed but rather through vegetative propagation, primarily suckers as well as more recently micropropagated or tissue cultured bananas. These factors, very old selections, near sterility and vegetative propagation, mean that these bananas have not been genetically improved either for resistance or improved quality and are becoming increasing in affected by serious pests and diseases.
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