Background: Enset (Ensete ventricosum, Musaceae) is an African crop that currently provides the staple food for approx. 20 million Ethiopians. Whilst wild enset grows over much of East and Southern Africa and the genus extends across Asia to China, it has only ever been domesticated in the Ethiopian Highlands. Here, smallholder farmers cultivate hundreds of landraces across diverse climatic and agroecological systems.
Scope: Enset has several important food security traits. It grows over a relatively wide range of conditions, is somewhat drought-tolerant, and can be harvested at any time of the year, over several years. It provides an important dietary starch source, as well as fibres, medicines, animal fodder, roofing and packaging. It stabilizes soils and microclimates and has significant cultural importance. In contrast to the other cultivated species in the family Musaceae (banana), enset has received relatively little research attention. Here, we review and critically evaluate existing research, outline available genomic and germplasm resources, aspects of pathology, and explore avenues for crop development.
Conclusion: Enset is an underexploited starch crop with significant potential in Ethiopia and beyond. Research is lacking in several key areas: empirical studies on the efficacy of current agronomic practices, the genetic diversity of landraces, approaches to systematic breeding, characterization of existing and emerging diseases, adaptability to new ranges and land-use change, the projected impact of climate change, conservation of crop wild relatives, by-products or co-products or non-starch uses, and the enset microbiome. We also highlight the limited availability of enset germplasm in living collections and seedbanks, and the lack of knowledge of reproductive and germination biology needed to underpin future breeding. By reviewing the current state of the art in enset research and identifying gaps and opportunities, we hope to catalyse the development and sustainable exploitation of this neglected starch crop.
Keywords: Ensete ventricosum; Biodiversity; biotic and abiotic resistance; climate adaptation; crop wild relatives (CWRs); domestication; false banana; food security; germplasm collections; pests and pathogens; sustainable agriculture; tropical crop ecology.
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Development of SSR Markers and Genetic Diversity Analysis in Enset (Ensete Ventricosum (Welw.) Cheesman), an Orphan Food Security Crop From Southern EthiopiaTM Olango et al. BMC Genet 16, 98. PMID 26243662.The first set of genomic SSR markers were developed in enset. A large proportion of these markers were polymorphic and some were also transferable to related species of t …
Indigenous Knowledge, Use and On-Farm Management of Enset (Ensete Ventricosum (Welw.) Cheesman) Diversity in Wolaita, Southern EthiopiaTM Olango et al. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 10, 41. PMID 24885715.This study reported on the knowledge system, socio-cultural process and community practices that drive the maintenance of intra-specific on-farm enset diversity in Wolait …
Exploiting Indigenous Knowledge of Subsistence Farmers' for the Management and Conservation of Enset (Ensete Ventricosum (Welw.) Cheesman) (Musaceae Family) Diversity On-FarmZ Yemataw et al. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 12 (1), 34. PMID 27586388.It can be concluded that the existing farmers' knowledge on naming, classification and diversity should be complemented with maintenance of the creative dynamics of tradi …
Application of Genetic Engineering for Control of Bacterial Wilt Disease of Enset, Ethiopia's Sustainability CropIF Merga et al. Front Plant Sci 10, 133. PMID 30863414. - ReviewEnset (Ensete ventricosum (Welw.) Cheesman) is one of the Ethiopia's indigenous sustainability crops supporting the livelihoods of about 20 million people, mainly …
Assessing and Exploiting Functional Diversity in Germplasm Pools to Enhance Abiotic Stress Adaptation and Yield in Cereals and Food LegumesSL Dwivedi et al. Front Plant Sci 8, 1461. PMID 28900432. - ReviewThere is a need to accelerate crop improvement by introducing alleles conferring host plant resistance, abiotic stress adaptation, and high yield potential. Elite cultiva …
Cited by 2 PubMed Central articles
A Simple and Rapid Protocol for the Genetic Transformation of Ensete ventricosumJ Matheka et al. Plant Methods 15, 130. PMID 31719836.Enset (Ensete ventricosum), also known as Ethiopian banana, is a food security crop for more than 20 million people in Ethiopia. As conventional breeding of enset …
Validation of the CIMI-Ethiopia Program and Seasonal Variation in Maternal Nutrient Intake in Enset (False Banana) Growing Areas of Southern EthiopiaT Bosha et al. Int J Environ Res Public Health 16 (16). PMID 31405023.It has been found that CIMI-Ethiopia is a valid tool for estimating nutrient intakes at an individual level in Southern Ethiopia. The study demonstrated a decline in inta …