Banana genera, species and cultivars info wanted

Discussion in 'Plants: Nomenclature and Taxonomy' started by kevind76, Nov 5, 2009.

  1. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

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    I'm new to bananas, and was wondering about what genera and species there are that would be considered 'bananas'. I have found Musa, Ensete, and also Musella to be in the Family Musaceae. Is the term 'banana' accurate for this family, or only for Musa? Are there many species in this family? Has there been a lot of hybridization? Specifically, I am wondering about the only banana that I have, a Dwarf Orinoco - does anyone know the history of this one? Is it a hybrid? A cultivar of a speices? Have there been any records of the history of hybridization? I am familiar with the naming system of orchids, and it takes some getting used to other families where the rule is 'anything goes' and there are not records, so you have no idea what the make-up of a plant is.
     
  2. Harri Harmaja

    Harri Harmaja Active Member 10 Years

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  3. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Depends on what standards of naming you use. Most would say just Musa, but there is a very unhelpful concept being heavily pushed in some quarters that believes that absolutely anything can be called anything, so long as some uneducated person has made that mistake in the past. By their ideas, you can call any plant you like - or animal, or inanimate object - a banana, and still be right. It doesn't make for good communication or science, though.
     
  4. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

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    What would you call the Musaceae family, then? Plantains? Or is there no common name to describe that family? If all three genera are the same, except for the fruit, what is a common feature of all, that would be easily described in a word?
     
  5. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

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  6. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    You can call it the banana family, even though only one of the genera is called bananas. That's normal in plant family names, the family is named after the main ('type') genus. For comparison, e.g. the family Pinaceae is called the pine family, but only one genus in it (Pinus) is called pine; larches, cedars, spruces and firs are all in the pine family, but not themselves called pines.
     
  7. Gros Michel

    Gros Michel Member

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  8. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    To answer your specific question, 'Dwarf Orinoco' is a cultivar developed in the Orinoco basin of Venezuela, as a shorter form of the 'Orinoco' or 'Chato' plantain cultivar, meaning harvest is easier. The traditional 'Orinoco' cultivar can grow to over 20 feet of pseudostem before it fruits, so it's easy to see why a Dwarf form was selected out. The cultivar is resistant to both Sigatoka (Banana Black Streak disease) and Panama Disease (Fusarium Wilt), and as such has been used as genetic material in a number of hybridization studies, particularly by the FHIA in Panama.

    With the exception of the Fe'i group of plantains, all edible (seedless) cultivars of banana and plantain are descended from two wild species - Musa acuminata and Musa balbasiana. The Dwarf Orinoco genome is ABB, which makes it more closely related to Musa balbasiana than M. acuminata, or in other words, makes it a plantain genetically (whereas sweet bananas are more closely related to M. acuminata.) Since it is triploid in genetics, it's sterile as a pollen parent, which is true of most of the Musa cultivars.

    Cultivar naming for Musa is sort of a matter of chance - it doesn't follow any really well defined pattern, and there is a lot of overlap in terms of single cultivars having a number of accepted names. There doesn't seem to be a registry for Musa cultivars, so there's no current hope of cultivar name standardization. Many cultivars are named for the geographic area where they are found or were developed, hence 'Lakatan' for the red bananas of the Lakatan peninsula (also called 'Jamaican Red' or 'Cuban Red' for their new world points of dispersion) and 'Orinoco' as discussed above. Other cultivars are named for botanists ('Cavendish' being a prime example), and yet others based on the fruit's physical appearance ('Gros Michel' 'Rhino Horn' and 'Orito' are three good examples. The first is a somewhat rude reference to the large size of the fruits, the second the actual appearance of the fruits, and the third literally means "little gold ones"). Still other cultivars are named based on their flavour, with 'Ice Cream' and 'Limon' being good examples. And to further confuse things, there are entire groups of Polynesian cultivars with names in Hawai'ian.
     
  9. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

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    Thanks! Very thorough explantion! It's as 'clear as mud', as they say. Really, though, it is good to know. To go into this a little further, when you say 'cultivar', what is the Dwarf Orinoco a cultivated variety of? Meaning, if there are only two species used for all edible bananas, are they native to Venezuela? Did someone import a varitey of cultivars at one point and breed them and then came up with the Orinoco, and then the dwarf? If I were to do some banana breeding here, could I name one of them Musa Winnipeg? If M. acuminata and balbisiana are bred together, is there a name for the resulting hybrid, or can all resulting seedlings potentially be given cultivar names?

    You say the Dwarf Orinoco is sterile as a pollen parent, and this is true of most of the Musa cultivars. How, then, do we get new cultivars? Wouldn't this mean that the two species listed would have to be bred onto the cultivars, for new ones to be made? So then, all cultivars would be 50% Musa species (either one of the two listed)? Is it entirely possible that almost all cultivars around today are nearly identical in genetic make-up, since only two species have been used?

    Am I even close to understanding this, or am I way off?
     
  10. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

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    On another note, I had posted a reply to Gros Michel about the links he gave, but it seems to have been deleted. I was wondering about the webebanans link - it needs to have an ending, like '.com' or something. What he posted doesn't work.
     
  11. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Fixed link, and I don't recall deleting any posts from this thread -- perhaps you didn't hit the submit reply button?

    Only adjustments to any recent banana threads that I can recall were splitting one thread into two, since there were 2 separate discussions going on.
     
  12. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

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    Thanks. Maybe you're right.
     
  13. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    You're close on some things, and way off on others. Let's see if we can't clarify it a bit more...

    Technically, all of the triploid and tetraploid hybrids between M. acuminata and M. balbiasana are considered to be cultivars of Musa acuminata x balbiasana and are correctly (scientifically at least) written that way. However, given the wide variety that's out there, they're generally just referenced by the cultivar name. Hence, 'Dwarf Orinoco' is a cultivar of Musa acuminata x balbiasana, just like all other edible bananas.

    However, here's where it gets interesting. M. acuminata and M. balbiasana are native to Asia, specifically to parts of China, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, India, and especially the Malay peninsulas. Cultivation started well back in history - and in fact it appears that in the orient, bananas were one of the first plants to be subject to selective breeding. Nearly all of the current-day cultivars were developed there, and have since been dispersed - the Portuguese and Spanish were the ones to bring bananas of any description to the new world, with the likely point of dispersion being the Caribbean islands.

    With the 'Orinoco' cultivar, I have no doubt that it also has an Asian cultivar name and that it was imported to the region several centuries ago with the Spanish. The name 'Orinoco' was established for it because this is its original new-world point of cultivation. However, what you mention (namely that it was bred from acuminata and balbiasana in the Orinoco valley) is not without precedent. It's just that the process of cultivar production is a lengthy one. (see below)

    Absolutely you could call your new plant Musa 'Winnipeg', as long as you were sure that you'd produced a new variety.

    The resulting hybrid of a straight acuminata-balbiasana cross is called Musa acuminata x balbiasana. It's on the second rebreeding that you can potentially begin to produce cultivars.

    Here's how it works, and I'll use the creation of an ABB cultivar (like 'Orinoco') as an example:

    1. Create your straight, diploid AB plant by crossing acuminata and balbiasana. Wait for this to fruit, and plant the seeds.
    2. Breed this new cross with M. balbiasana again, wait for fruit, and plant the seeds. When these new plants fruit, you'll get some AB plants, some BB plants, and a very tiny percentage of 'sport' seeds with the genetics ABB. You'll only be able to tell this when the new plants fruit - the desireable ABB plants will have no noticeable seed in the fruit.
    3. Select the ABB plants and propagate from pups (ie vegetatively via the offshoots). This is your new cultivar. Assuming that it tastes good to you, you keep it and give it a name. If it doesn't meet your standards, you start again with your AB plants until you produce something that you like.

    Note: Mutation being what it is, you may also get seedless plants in your first crossbreeding (ie you may get seedless AA, AB, or BB plants). These are also new cultivars.

    However, since what you're relying on is a chance mutation you won't produce the same cultivar twice using this method of cultivar origination. The other thing to consider is that there are several subspecies of M. acuminata, and which one of these you are using will affect the final cultivar.

    Seeded banana plants, in optimum tropical conditions, take between 18 and 24 months to complete a full cycle from seed to fruiting.

    To get a dwarf cultivar from your new one, select the pups of the plants that fruit at the shortest height. Progressively, you'll end up with a cultivar that reproduces only short plants.

    Not quite. There are: three types of diploid cultivar (AA, AB, and BB), four types of triploid cultivar (AAA, AAB, ABB, and BBB), as well as the newer tetraploids (AAAA, AAAB, AABB, ABBB, and BBBB). The diploids work the way you suggest. The triploids, logically, contain either 100% of one parent's genome, or 33% of the other parent's. With the tetraploids, you're looking at 100% one parent, 50% one parent, or 25% one parent. These are normally laboratory-created using a process that I don't adequately understand. The FHIA numbered cultivars belong to the tetraploid group.

    You're bang-on about the genetic make-up of all of the triploid cultivars, though. They're 99.999% identical genetically, with that other fraction of a percent being the chance mutation that created them in the first place. The other thing that should blow your mind is that, since the chance of reproducing that particular mutation a second time is practically nil, all bananas of the cultivar 'Orinoco' are practically genetically identical to the very first 'Orinoco' banana, however far back in history that goes.

    --

    Incidentally, the reason that Musa acuminata and M. balbiasana are used to create edible cultivars is that the two have the same number of chromosomes (2n=20), and are thus able to crossbreed. Most other Musa species are either 2n=22 or, in the case of the Ingentimusa section, 2n=14.

    The edible bananas created from the 2n=22 group, the Callimusa, are called the Fe'i group, and are unique to Polynesia.
     
  14. SusanDunlap

    SusanDunlap Active Member

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    lol
     
  15. SusanDunlap

    SusanDunlap Active Member

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    nice reply, Lorax. Very informative.
     

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