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URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature11241 (Open access)
Bananas (Musa spp.), including dessert and cooking types, are giant perennial monocotyledonous herbs of the order Zingiberales, a sister group to the well-studied Poales, which include cereals. Bananas are vital for food security in many tropical and subtropical countries and the most popular fruit in industrialized countries. The Musa domestication process started some 7,000 years ago in Southeast Asia. It involved hybridizations between diverse species and subspecies, fostered by human migrations, and selection of diploid and triploid seedless, parthenocarpic hybrids thereafter widely dispersed by vegetative propagation. Half of the current production relies on somaclones derived from a single triploid genotype (Cavendish). Pests and diseases have gradually become adapted, representing an imminent danger for global banana production. Here we describe the draft sequence of the 523-megabase genome of a Musa acuminatadoubled-haploid genotype, providing a crucial stepping-stone for genetic improvement of banana. We detected three rounds of whole-genome duplications in the Musa lineage, independently of those previously described in the Poales lineage and the one we detected in the Arecales lineage. This first monocotyledon high-continuity whole-genome sequence reported outside Poales represents an essential bridge for comparative genome analysis in plants. As such, it clarifies commelinid-monocotyledon phylogenetic relationships, reveals Poaceae-specific features and has led to the discovery of conserved non-coding sequences predating monocotyledon–eudicotyledon divergence.