News Release

Unveiling the genetic secrets of Musa ornata and Musa velutina: insights into pericarp dehiscence and anthocyanin biosynthesis

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Nanjing Agricultural University The Academy of Science

A and B Flowers and fruits of Musa ornata.


A and B Flowers and fruits of Musa ornataD and E Flowers and fruits of Musa velutinaC and F Chromosome characterization of the Mo and Mv genome assemblies, respectively. The tracks from the outer to the inner (a–f) represent the chromosome, tandem repeat density, gypsy element density, copia element density, GC content, and gene density, respectively. These metrics were calculated in 700 kb windows.

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Credit: Horticulture Research

In a pioneering study, researchers have completed the chromosome-level genome assemblies for Musa ornata and Musa velutina, shedding light on the genetic underpinnings of pericarp dehiscence and anthocyanin biosynthesis in bananas. This genetic blueprint is poised to revolutionize the enhancement of bananas' ornamental appeal and nutritional quality, unlocking mysteries that were previously obscured by limited genomic data.

Musa ornata and Musa velutina, known for their ornamental appeal, face cultivation challenges due to the lack of detailed genomic data. These species are popular in horticulture for their vibrant flowers and unique fruit characteristics, but genetic studies have been limited. Recent advancements in genomic sequencing technologies have made it possible to obtain high-quality genome assemblies, essential for enhancing their ornamental traits. Due to these challenges, it is crucial to conduct comprehensive research to improve our understanding and cultivation of these ornamental bananas.

A team from South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, published their findings (DOI: 10.1093/hr/uhae079) in Horticulture Research on March 14, 2024. Utilizing Oxford Nanopore long reads and Hi-C reads, they assembled the genomes of Musa ornata and Musa velutina into 11 pseudochromosomes. This research marks a significant milestone in ornamental banana genomics, offering valuable data for future breeding programs.

Researchers sequenced the genomes of Musa ornata and Musa velutina, assembling them into chromosome-level assemblies with sizes of 427.85 Mb and 478.10 Mb, respectively. The analysis revealed that repetitive sequences constituted a significant portion of the genomes. Differentially expressed gene analyses identified genes involved in saccharide metabolic processes and anthocyanin biosynthesis, providing insights into fruit peeling and coloration mechanisms. Notably, polygalacturonase genes exhibited higher expression in mature pericarps, indicating their role in pericarp dehiscence. Additionally, key genes in the anthocyanin biosynthesis pathway were identified, explaining the vibrant colors of these bananas. These findings offer a comprehensive understanding of the genetic basis for these traits, providing valuable data for breeding programs aimed at improving the ornamental and horticultural qualities of Musa ornata and Musa velutina.

Dr. Hui-Run Huang, the corresponding author, stated, "The chromosomal-level genome assemblies of Musa ornata and Musa velutina are crucial for understanding the genetic basis of key ornamental traits. This research not only advances our knowledge of these species but also lays the foundation for future breeding efforts aimed at enhancing their aesthetic and horticultural value."

These findings have significant implications for the ornamental plant industry. By understanding the genetic mechanisms behind pericarp dehiscence and anthocyanin biosynthesis, breeders can develop new varieties of ornamental bananas with improved traits. This research also opens avenues for further studies on related species, contributing to the broader field of plant genomics and horticulture.





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Funding information

This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 32070237, 31261140366).

About Horticulture Research

Horticulture Research is an open access journal of Nanjing Agricultural University and ranked number one in the Horticulture category of the Journal Citation Reports ™ from Clarivate, 2022. The journal is committed to publishing original research articles, reviews, perspectives, comments, correspondence articles and letters to the editor related to all major horticultural plants and disciplines, including biotechnology, breeding, cellular and molecular biology, evolution, genetics, inter-species interactions, physiology, and the origination and domestication of crops.

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