Project: Improvement of cycling time, flower and fruit set in the "Jaffa" selection of "Cavendish" bananas

The economy of Martinique and Guadeloupe (MG), two French Islands in the Caribbean Sea, highly depends on banana export to Europe. Banana cultivation comprises a major source of income and employment to the residents of these islands. Jointly MG grow bananas in an area of approximately 8,500 Ha (6,200 in Martinique and 2,300 in Guadeloupe). Given the high cost of living in MG, banana production is generously financed by the French government. Despite profitability of producing bananas the quotas of production set by the French government for MG are rarely met. For example of a quota of production of 300,000 ton between the two islands only 250,000 ton of fruit was produced in 2010. High cost of manpower combined with lack of fertile lands are the key factors for not reaching the quotas set by the French authorities. Rahan Meristem is by far the major supplier of plant material to the growers of MG and a major banana plants producer by tissue culture worldwide . The company supplies approximately 80% of the plant material sold to the growers of MG. In the last four years Rahan Meristem Israel (RMI) exported to MG over 1.5 million plants a year of which 2.4 millions (over the last four years) are from a single selection called "Jaffa". This elite selection benefits from high yields (approximately 20% higher than it's originator "Williams"). In addition the "Jaffa" clone was selected for desirable plant and fruit bunch architecture that improve the quality of the fruit ( US Patent 8,097,773,B2). Through the particular characteristics of the "Jaffa" selection, RMI has acquired a very substantial lead in the markets of various banana growing regions, including MG. But despite the proven benefits to the growers, "Jaffa" has a disadvantage stemming from late flowering and fruit development. This trait is manifested in various areas of production in Central America and the French Indies. The work proposed , combines a selection in Israel, a region devoid of pests and diseases, with a continuous validation of the selected products in one of the target growing regions, Guadeloupe. We will be using state of the art technology that entails specific DNA markers, recently developed for banana selection, combined with field trials in the Western Galilee and in Guadeloupe. Given the short time of funding (3 years), we are starting the project with a population of induced mutants of 30,000 plants originating from 20 selected lines, that have already been established in RMI prior to the commencement of the project. This population was produced by tissue culture as will be detailed. In the last round of multiplication the population was divided to two sub-populations of 15,000 plants each, with identifiable siblings. Working in the banana industry in Guadeloupe for 16 years, a team of experts from Meristem Antilles, headed by Mr. Jairo Marin, will conduct professional validation field experiments. Mr. Marin has specialized in identifying banana mutants at the nursery stage. Following field selection a second round of tissue culture will be conducted. The second round will yield three populations of siblings (triplets) that will be identified by accession numbers. One population will continue the tissue culture in order to select stable lines while the other two will be divided among RMI and GP (750 plants each). Our goal is to select 2-4 elite lines of Jaffa with early flowering and fruit set characteristics . Beyond this CO deliverable, we will have an opportunity to evaluate the merits of co-selecting in two locations. An important objective is developing tools that will allow "tailor selected lines" that circumvent undesirable phenotypes, specific to a growing location. These methods will be resourceful for breeding other Cavendish banana clones for additional traits. _x000D_For the first time the selection will be conducted concomitantly in two locations RMI and Guadeloupe. Due to phyto-sanitary restrictions it is not practical to transfer plant material from Guadeloupe to Israel for continuing the selection process. Consequently, we have devised a unique system of selection. This entails a double selections in which each accession that is selected in Guadeloupe will have a sibling in Israel that can be multiplied in order to create the next phase of selection and stabilization of the trait. In preliminary experiments on the cv. Adi we found that the sibling system accurately represents a clone. These experiments demonstrated that in the most part, siblings from the last stage of multiplication exhibit very similar characteristics. The double selection technique may vastly contribute to overcoming the effects of interaction between the genetic constitution and the local growing conditions. We envision a new trend by which our future selections will be performed concomitantly in a tropical and subtropical region. _x000D__x000D_

Acronym JAFFASEL (Reference Number: 7460)
Duration 01/06/2012 - 31/05/2015
Project Topic Rahan Meristem (RMI) and Meristem Antilles (MA) are proposing a joint plan aimed to advance flowering time in the banana cv. "Jaffa". The selection entails in vitro mutagenesis assisted by the mechanism of transposon activation, field selections (RMI, and MA) and stabilization of the trait.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 8

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
2 Meristem Antilles Partner France
2 Rahan Meristem (1998) LTD Coordinator Israel