• Musa;
  • induced mutations;
  • enzymatic mismatch cleavage;
  • chimerism;
  • ethyl methanesulphonate


Mutation discovery technologies have enabled the development of reverse genetics for many plant species and allowed sophisticated evaluation of the consequences of mutagenesis. Such methods are relatively straightforward for seed-propagated plants. To develop a platform suitable for vegetatively propagated species, we treated isolated banana shoot apical meristems with the chemical mutagen ethyl methanesulphonate, recovered plantlets and screened for induced mutations. A high density of GC-AT transition mutations were recovered, similar to that reported in seed-propagated polyploids. Through analysis of the inheritance of mutations, we observed that genotypically heterogeneous stem cells resulting from mutagenic treatment are rapidly sorted to fix a single genotype in the meristem. Further, mutant genotypes are stably inherited in subsequent generations. Evaluation of natural nucleotide variation showed the accumulation of potentially deleterious heterozygous alleles, suggesting that mutation induction may uncover recessive traits. This work therefore provides genotypic insights into the fate of totipotent cells after mutagenesis and suggests rapid approaches for mutation-based functional genomics and improvement of vegetatively propagated crops.