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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: Will the Genome Save the Banana?
11 July 2012 1:00 pm
Reports of the banana's demise may have been greatly exaggerated. At least that's the hope of a team of scientists, which has finally sequenced the genome of the fruit and is counting on it to yield new resistance genes to protect it from two fungal foes: Panama disease and black sigatoka. More than half the world's bananas and almost all of the ones exported to the United States and Europe belong to the Cavendish variety (left). That plant has no seeds and does not sexually reproduce, meaning all are genetically identical and equally susceptible to the fungi threatening them. The Cavendish also has three sets of chromosomes, which makes its genome enormously difficult to sequence. Instead, in the new study reported online today in Nature, the researchers sequenced the genome of a variety called DH Pahang (right). It is one of three bananas that contributed to the Cavendish, and it is highly resistant to the strain of Panama disease threatening the Cavendish. What's more, as the seeds show, it has an intact sex life, meaning it can be used for breeding a new variety—perhaps one that's hardier than today's bananas.
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