IITA has made significant progress in its plantain research in West Africa with the generation of seedlings from crosses with in vitro induced tetraploids from diploids―a first for the Institute.
The IITA Regional Banana Breeding Manager, Delphine Amah, who supervised execution of the crosses in IITA-Ibadan, said the crosses were vital for plantain improvement in West Africa in the years ahead.
Delivering her contract review seminar titled: Support to Banana and Plantain Breeding―Updates on West Africa, Amah said the Banana Unit had recorded giant strides in the recent years.
For instance, as part of a revised pre-breeding strategy to produce improved parents while shortening the breeding cycle for plantain, the unit was now producing tetraploids which have four sets of chromosomes from diploids (which have two) using optimized in vitro doubling techniques.
In addition, tissue culture techniques have been employed to generate seedlings from crosses through embryo culture and mass propagation of plants for clonal evaluation.
The unit is also promoting the use of macropropagation and field propagation techniques for the production of clean planting material and good agronomy practices.
So far, Amah and her team have produced and distributed thousands of Agbagba plantain plantlets to the IITA farm unit and Youth Agripreneur project for propagation and distribution.
Furthermore, they have established pollination blocks with female fertile plantain landraces and Black Sigatoka resistant tetraploid plantain hybrids for accelerated breeding.
The team has established recently imported Musa acuminata ssp. banksii accessions for evaluation and use as parents in crosses to breed for plantains with high provitamin A content.
They have also established a propagation scheme for the production of plantlets for pollination blocks and planned trials to enable registration of new IITA hybrids.
All these activities are aimed at rejuvenating plantain breeding in IITA for efficient delivery of improved varieties to farmers, she said.