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PhenSeeData - Expanding the services of the Bioversity International Musa germplasm Transit Centre (ITC) and the use of the global banana collection Implementation (PhenSeeData)

Bananas (Musa spp.) are giant perennial herbs that are produced in more than 120 tropical and subtropical countries. They are the largest fruit crop in the world with an annual production of 141 million tonnes1 (2013, FAO). Only 15 % of global banana production, mostly “Cavendish bananas”, is exported; the vast majority of bananas produced (85%, including Cavendish) are locally traded and/or consumed. As such, bananas serve as a staple crop for approximately 400-600 million people, particularly those in the least developed countries. Bananas are also important to Belgium. The port of Antwerp is the world’s biggest harbour for banana. With an annual influx of 1.4 million tonnes, Belgium is the world’s second biggest importer of bananas after the US, and it is the second largest exporter after Ecuador. Moreover, banana handling in Belgium creates 1500 high-value jobs. The Bioversity International Musa Germplasm Transit Centre (ITC), hosted by the Catholic University of Leuven (KULeuven), houses a unique collection of banana diversity. The collection was initiated in 1985 and expanded over the years through invaluable support of the Belgian government. It now holds over 1500 banana accessions, as a global heritage for the benefit of current and future generations. As CGIAR re-aligns its research-for-development agenda2 (CGIAR, 2015) to more strategically address the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (UN 2015) by 2030, global collections like the ITC will have an increasingly important role to play in reducing poverty, improving food and nutrition security, and improving natural resources systems and ecosystems services. The proposed project aims to expand ITC’s services and boost the use of its conserved germplasm in three ways: 1) Initiating a seedbank for wild bananas, to complement in vitro conservation methods of edible seedless bananas, 2)Establishing an automated Musa phenotyping3 and nursery facility to increase the ITC’s capacity to screen the conserved material for beneficial traits and to multiply on-site healthy plant material in African fields, and 3) Expanding ITC’s data management platform, to allow the full integration of big data generated from Next Generation Sequencing and phenotyping facilities.
Date:1 Jul 2016  →  30 Jun 2017
Keywords:B270-plant-ecology, B290-systematic-botany