'Asupina' at a glance
Available from the ITC: ITC 1027
'Asupina' is a cultivar that belongs to a group of bananas domesticated in the Pacific region, the Fei bananas. Like many of the cultivars in this group, it has high levels of provitamin A carotenoid that are transformed into vitamin A in the body. 'Asupina' supplied the APsy2a gene that was introduced to a Cavendish cultivar by scientists at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia1. The gene encodes the protein phytoene synthase, which plays a role in the pathway leading to the formation of α- and β-carotene.The proof of concept is part of a project to alleviate vitamin A deficiency in Uganda by engineering local cultivars2.
The pendulous bunch suggests hybridization with Musa acuminata.
The peel colour of the ripe fruit is orange. The texture of the fruit pulp is soft and its colour yellow/orange.
An 'Asupina' accession collected in Papua New Guinea was evaluated on-station in Australia3. The first crop cycle took 14-15 months and the ratoon one 9-10 months. The height of the pseudostem varied from 3 to 4.5 m over two crop cycles, and the bunch weight from 5 to 20 kg.
In a study comparing ten cultivars that had yellow to orange fruit with two Cavendish cultivars, 'Asupina' had the highest level of trans β-carotene, the most important provitamin A carotenoid (1,412 μg/100 g of fresh weight, or more than 20 times the level in the Cavendish cultivars). Consumption of 2 to 3 fingers of this cultivar could provide half of the estimated vitamin A requirements for a nonpregnant, nonlactating adult woman4.