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Under the peel

Under the peel is the blog of the ProMusa community. The views expressed are those of the authors. Non-registered users can post comments, but only registered ones can post blog items. When logged in, click on the pencil+ icon to start a post. We welcome contributions in French or Spanish. If you need help, contact the InfoMus@ editor at infomusa@promusa.org.

Better access to literature on bananas

Inge Van den Bergh Friday, 25 October 2013

The first issue of Musarama (a discontinued INIBAP newsletter not to be confused with ProMusa’s image bank) compared looking for articles on bananas in books of abstracts to gold panning. Finding nuggets of information became easier with the publication of bibliographies on bananas, such as the ones inserted into Musarama starting in 1988. Three years later, the Musalit database was set up but these were still early days for the Internet. Musarama continued to be the only outlet for bibliographical records until Musalit joined the web in 1998. From that point on its search interface remained more or less the same even as online searches were becoming increasingly powerful. But who has the time and patience to sift through the 194,000 hits of a Google Scholar search on the word bananas to find the valid ones, let alone the relevant ones?

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Crocs and banana plantations: What the media missed

Anne Vézina Friday, 27 September 2013

A number of news outlets picked up the press release sent by Wiley, Yellow peril:  Are banana farms contaminating Costa Rica's crocs?. The question mark in the title must be rhetorical. The press release leaves little doubt that readers are expected to agree with the conclusion of a study calling for banana plantations in Costa Rica to be better regulated because caimans from the Tortuguero area on the Atlantic coast “had been exposed to pesticides from upstream banana plantations”.  Sure enough, all the news pieces I saw reported the story uncritically. The Guardian went as far as saying that the study had “established that run-off from banana plantations is harming the caimans that glide stealthily through Costa Rica’s conserved waters.“

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Musa sections revisited

Anne Vézina Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The recent publication of a revision of the Musa sections will come as a surprise to those who thought that the Rhodochlamys section had already been merged into the Eumusa section, and renamed Musa, and the Australimusa one into Callimusa. Wikipedia, for one, thought that the merge had taken place in 2002 after a molecular analysis found that Musa species segregated into two groups instead of four. Well, it hadn’t. Not only did it require more than one molecular study to topple the morphology-based classification, any revision of the sections also had to be done by the book, which is what the Finnish botanist Markku Hakkinen did by publishing his revision in Taxon.

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Tribute to Phil Rowe

Anne Vézina Monday, 29 July 2013

Mark Rowe, the son of Phil Rowe, recounts how his father convinced his mother to move to Honduras two months after the 1969 Football War between Honduras and El Salvador. He told her that they would only be there for two years. Little did he know at the time that the job of banana breeder he was about to accept with United Fruit (later known as Chiquita) would define the rest of his life, let alone that people would still be talking about him years after his death.

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TR4: will history repeat itself?

Boudy van Schagen Friday, 07 June 2013

If you believe that history will repeat itself unless we learn from it, then you may be interested in a historical review of the introduction and spread of banana pests and pathogens on the African continent. It provides some revealing insights into how most of today’s most damaging pests and pathogens were unwittingly introduced into Africa with imported planting material. Against a backdrop of increasing travel movements, it urges renewed vigilance to prevent more pathogens from creeping in.

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Slippery uses of banana statistics

Anne Vézina Tuesday, 26 March 2013

If a prize was awarded to the most popular opening line of scientific articles on bananas, it would have to go to “banana and plantain (Musa spp.) are the world’s fourth most important food crop after rice, wheat and maize”. I don’t mean it as a compliment though. In fact, I get slightly annoyed every time I see it. Firstly, it’s not clear how the claim can be verified given that it doesn’t say what was measured. Is it the number of tonnes produced? Production value in constant dollars? Consumption? Since the statement is usually not referenced, your guess is as good as mine.

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In Memoriam - Jacky Ganry

Inge Van den Bergh Friday, 08 February 2013

On February 4th, the ProMusa community lost one of its long-standing members, Jacky Ganry.

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Welcome to the ProMusa Crop Improvement Working Group

Robert Miller Tuesday, 02 October 2012

Welcome to the ProMusa Crop Improvement Working Group. We look forward to working with you and of advancing the interests of the group as we all take it forward in the coming years.

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