Seven millenia, same bananas -

Seven millenia, same bananas

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Seven millenia, same bananas

Australian and European researchers have found bananas were rarely cross-bred during the last 7,000 years, media agency Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported.

The team of scientists published their findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, after a study that involved analysis of genetic, linguistic and archaeological data, the story reported.

Australian National University linguistics researcher and paper co-author Mark Donohue, said 85% of bananas were cultivated for local consumption, which meant any disruption to the supply would have immediate effects and could lead to famines, the story reported.

"The genetic descent is one thing, but knowing whether they [bananas] are being used by humans is another," Donohue was quoted as saying.

"The archaeologists could tell us when they were actually being used, the geneticists could tell us which direction and which kind of cross-breeding happened and, through the linguistics, we managed to get an idea of how culturally important bananas were for the regions they were in."

Studies of banana leaves in Papua New Guinea showed cultivation was taking place around 7,000 years ago, while bananas in Southeast Asia and western Melanesia could not have formed without human influence, the story reported.

The linguistic aspect of the study found more than 1100 terms from different languages relating to banana varieties, while there are hundreds of different banana types in existence.

"Many parts of the world, like Indonesia, don't really know the sort of genetic diversity that's out there - there's never been a survey," Donohue was quoted as saying.

"Given the different kinds of climate we see, from New Guinea to South East Asia, there's probably a specialized variety, already being grown or present in the wild, that can hit that [disease resilient] niche quite well if we could only find it."

Photo: Jason Gulledge, Flickr

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