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Rapid and efficient production of transgenic East African highland banana (Musa spp.) using intercalary meristematic tissues
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East Africa is the largest banana producing and consuming region in Africa. In particular, the East African Highland Banana serves as the major staple crop of countries like Uganda, but production is constrained by a number of serious pests and diseases. Banana breeding is a very difficult and slow process, so genetic engineering offers an alternative approach to improvement. A transformation system using intercalary meristematic tissues was developed using Agrobacterium strain EHA105 harboring the binary vector pCAMBIA2301 containing the gusA reporter gene and nptII as selectable marker. In this paper, a new transformation protocol is described that yields kanamycin-resistant, GUSexpressing banana plants from roughly 10% of the initial explants. The resulting fully-rooted transgenic plants do not appear to be chimeras since they can be stably propagated, GUS activity is observed uniformly throughout the plants including the germline cells of the meristem, and PCR and Southern blots indicate stable integration of the genes into the genome.