Bioversity International signed an agreement yesterday with the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven) to support the world’s collection of banana and plantain germplasm.
Per the agreement, Bioversity will host its Musa germplasm collection at the new premises of KU Leuven, which will maintain the facilities to be called the Bioversity Musa Germplasm Transit Centre.
Dr Emile A Frison, Director General of Bioversity, said the agreement is an important step forward for banana research, and that both organizations are committed to the improvement of banana and plantain and the characterization for increased use and conservation of plant genetic resources.
“Bananas and plantains are among the most important carbohydrate sources in the tropical world. Less than 15 per cent of the global production of more than 130 million metric tonnes is exported. The diversity of this crop is still largely underutilized, it is threatened in nature and needs to be conserved, studied and made available to users worldwide,” Frison said.
Among its areas of research, Bioversity maintains the world Musa germplasm collection, conducts research in partnership to improve crop production, promotes the collection and exchange of documentation and information related to bananas and plantains and supports training for researchers and technicians of developing countries.
The Faculty of Bio-Science Engineering of KU Leuven (Belgium) is committed to carry out research aimed at increasing food production in the tropical world. Research activities dealing with bananas and plantains are mainly executed by the Laboratory of Tropical Crop Improvement, Division of Plant Biotechnics. This is one of the world renowned centres in banana and plantain research. It is specialised in in vitro technologies and conservation of Musa germplasm (medium term cold storage and long term cryopreservation) and has developed considerable expertise in genomics and proteomics of Musa. In addition the laboratory is a Centre of Excellence in cryopreservation of vegetatively propagated crops with worldwide recognition.
Bioversity International, which has headquarters in Rome, Italy, is a non-profit research for development organization seeking solutions to global issues through the use and conservation of agricultural and forest biodiversity. Bioversity is one of the 15 international research for development centers of the CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food secure future. For more information: www.bioversityinternational.org