Bioversity International: research for development in agricultural and tree biodiversity

Plant breeders and farmers require increased access to crop diversity to meet the demands of a rising population that needs more food produced in a changing environment. Crop genetic resources are a source of useful agronomic traits and more needs to be done to exploit the untapped genetic diversity conserved in genebanks.

Today, the available genetic information on material conserved in genebanks is insufficient. Progress in genomics technologies and bioinformatics plays a significant role in discovering useful genetic diversity. Genebanks need to embrace the genomics era by developing new strategies and tools to: assess the genetic diversity represented in their collections; identify traits related to nutritional quality and resistance to pests, diseases and drought; support breeding activities. 

Our research approach

Bioversity International scientists are taking advantage of the latest Next Generation Sequencing technologies, which create an extraordinary amount of genomic information to: 

  • produce high-density genetic markers for a large number of accessions conserved in genebanks to support diversity studies 
  • sequence, assemble and annotate key genomes, thus producing useful information for researchers and breeders
  • conduct pre-breeding activities such as genome-wide association studies and large-scale transcriptome studies to unravel the genetic basis of certain traits (e.g. resistance to biotic and abiotic stress, seedlessness), with a special focus on banana – a mandate crop for Bioversity International.

Learn more about unravelling the genetic basis of banana traits using next generation sequencing technologies in this fact sheet.

Download the fact sheet


Banana genome sequencing project

Banana genomics Venn diagram. Credit: Nature/M. Rouard
Banana genomics Venn diagram. Credit: Nature/M. Rouard

The banana genome, sequenced in 2012, is the cornerstone of any genomics and bioinformatics analysis on banana. Bioversity International, through its bioinformatics expertise, contributed to this effort by supporting genome analysis. Sequencing the banana genome has paved the way for functional genomic studies for identifying genes of interest that are the basis of agronomical banana traits such as drought and salt tolerance, Fusarium wilt resistance, fruit ripening. It also accelerates genomics-assisted breeding and, ultimately, will contribute to nutritional and food security in developing countries.

Find out more in these two blogs from ProMusa: First glimpse at the banana genome and The 'best genomics Venn diagram ever' deconstructed

Banana genomics workshop at PAG

Credit: PAG
Credit: PAG

Since 2004 in mid-January in San Diego, Bioversity International has organized the Banana Genomics workshop at the world’s largest Agrigenomics conference, the Plant and Animal Genome (PAG). In 2015 the Global Musa Genomics Consortium became part of MusaNet as the Genomics Thematic Group and the workshop is now co-organized by Bioversity International and CIRAD. The workshop gathers the global banana research community as well as researchers working on other crops, and provides a unique opportunity to promote scientific exchanges and strengthen collaboration.

Read more on MusaNet and GenomeWeb

The South Green bioinformatic platform

The South Green platform is a network of bioinformatics scientists that involves CIRAD, IRD, INRA, SupAgro and Bioversity International. Based on a strong scientific community with a shared interest in the field of agriculture, food, biodiversity and environment, this network - with a national and international scope - develops bioinformatics applications and resources dedicated to genetics and genomics of tropical and Mediterranean plants. Bioversity International scientists lead or contribute to the development of information systems related to the management of plant genetic resources and genome with focus on banana. This network is also very active in providing capacity building to partners in developing countries.

Read the blog Capacity-building training on Musa Genome

Scientific databases

MGIS - The Musa Germplasm Information System

Banana genome hub centralizes genetic and genomic data on the Musa acuminata genome sequence as well as the sequences of closely related species

Greenphyl is a web platform for comparative and functional genomics of some 30 sequenced species, including Musa acuminata