The cultivation of bananas is believed to have started approximately 10,000 years ago. Today, bananas are a valuable crop grown in more than 107 countries with a total global production of 72.5 million metric tonnes in 2005. In Malaysia, an estimated 535,000 metric tonnes were produced in 2006.

Bananas and plantains, both belonging to the genus Musa, are herbaceous plants native to Southeast Asia. They are cultivated primarily for their fruit, which is either eaten raw or used in cooking, although they do have other uses, such as fibre for textiles and paper. In addition to their nutritional value (bananas are high in vitamins B6 and C, and potassium), bananas also have a place in the traditional treatment of kidney stones and in the treatment of jaundice.

Like many other crops, however, bananas are highly susceptible to pests and diseases. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that they are mainly propagated asexually, which has led to a lack of genetic diversity and subsequently, a lack of disease resistance in planted cultivars.

Hope may lie in a completely mapped banana genome, which will be vital for the development and discovery of novel disease-resistant banana varieties. To get to this point, studies on the diversity and molecular biology of wild bananas must be conducted. This includes gene discovery and comparative genomics analyses.
Comparative and functional analyses of genomic and transcriptomic sequences are important steps in revealing disease resistant genes within the banana genome.
WHAT IS SynaTate?
SynaTate™ is a sequence mining tool developed to use the SynaBASE data structure to find putative regions of 'importance' in a given sequence. This application also enables analysis of patterns within sequences, and associates keywords and annotations to those patterns.
SynaTate can be used in the annotation and discovery of novel functional genes in bananas, in order to find the resistant varieties among the Musa genus.
To run SynaTate, please follow the instructions below:
  1. Go to
  2. Click on SynaTate.
  3. Click on the Test Sequence and select 'Banana EST'.
  4. Click the ANNOTATE button.
Figure 1: SynaTate input page
Figure 2: SynaTate results page
Figure 3: Selected region showing the keywords
From the results generated by SynaTate, the researcher is able to find significant and meaningful keywords, and thus locate a gene or sequence associated with a certain protein or process. Further analysis and modification may be carried out on that particular sequence of interest. Figure 3 shows the sequence which codes for the GTP-binding protein. This protein acts as a molecular switch and is involved in the regulation of a wide range of biological processes, including protein synthesis, signal transduction pathways, growth and differentiation.
Ref: Foo Cheung and Christopher D Town (2007) A BAC end view of the Musa acuminata genome. BMC Plant Biology, 7:29

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