Background and aims: The production of triploid banana and plantain (Musa spp.) cultivars with improved characteristics (e.g. greater disease resistance or higher yield), while still preserving the main features of current popular cultivars (e.g. taste and cooking quality), remains a major challenge for Musa breeders. In this regard, breeders require a sound knowledge of the lineage of the current sterile triploid cultivars, to select diploid parents that are able to transmit desirable traits, together with a breeding strategy ensuring final triploidization and sterility. Highly polymorphic single sequence repeats (SSRs) are valuable markers for investigating phylogenetic relationships.
Methods: Here, the allelic distribution of each of 22 SSR loci across 561 Musa accessions is analysed.
Key results and conclusions: We determine the closest diploid progenitors of the triploid 'Cavendish' and 'Gros Michel' subgroups, valuable information for breeding programmes. Nevertheless, in establishing the likely monoclonal origin of the main edible triploid banana subgroups (i.e. 'Cavendish', 'Plantain' and 'Mutika-Lujugira'), we postulated that the huge phenotypic diversity observed within these subgroups did not result from gamete recombination, but rather from epigenetic regulations. This emphasizes the need to investigate the regulatory mechanisms of genome expression on a unique model in the plant kingdom. We also propose experimental standards to compare additional and independent genotyping data for reference.