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Fruitful Exploration of Bougainville Island

posted Jun 6, 2017, 7:00 AM by Chase, Rachel ‎(Bioversity)‎   [ updated Oct 6, 2017, 7:36 AM ]
everal MusaNet members took part in a 16-day banana collecting mission in October 2016 on the islands of Bougainville, Buka and Sohano in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea (PNG). The mission was co-organized by the National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI) in PNG and Bioversity International, and was funded by the Genebanks CGIAR Research Programme, with a contribution of the Belgium government through the PhenSeeData project.

The collecting team included (photo from left to right) Gou Rauka (phytopathologist in NARI Lae), Janet Paofa (curator of the Musa collection in NARI Laloki), Gabriel Sachter-Smith (member of the DTG and ITG, banana taxonomy expert), Steven Janssens (member of the DTG and CTG, Botanic Garden Meise) and Julie Sardos (co-chair of the DTG, Bioversity International). Zohn Bosco from Bougainville Express Tours (BET), and officers from Department of Primary Industries (DPI) offices in Buka, Kieta and Buin locally supported the team.

The mission was a success, with 61 potentially new varieties and wild types of banana collected for conservation. Notably this included a number of diploid AAs suitable for cooking purposes that will enrich the genepool used for Plantain breeding. In addition, fresh leaf tissues were sent to the Musa Genotyping Center at the Institute of Experimental Botany in Olomouc (Czech Republic) for ploidy analysis and further SSR genotyping.

Seed and leaf samples were also collected to perform population genetics studies, in order to 1) better understand gene flow and population dynamics of wild species on Bougainville 2) better define the species M. bukensis and M. maclayi spp. maclayi and 3) provide useful insight into the domestication of Fe’i bananas from the section Australimusa.

The mission also aimed to strengthen the local conservation of banana germplasm. Mrs Delwin Ketsian, president of the Arawa Women in Agriculture, the local branch of PNG Women in Agriculture Development Foundation, graciously agreed to plant suckers from the collected germplasm in her garden. Her initiative is critical to safeguarding some of the lesser known or used varieties, including some of significant cultural importance.

For more details and many fantastic photos, the collecting mission report and catalogue can be found here:

Bougainville Collecting Mission Report (2 MB)

Bougainville Collecting Mission Catalogue (70 MB)

ProMusa also featured the mission in their In Picture series here.