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Open Access Research article

A multi gene sequence-based phylogeny of the Musaceae (banana) family

Pavla Christelová1, Miroslav Valárik1, Eva Hřibová1, Edmond De Langhe2 and Jaroslav Doležel1*

Author affiliations

1 Centre of the Region Haná for Biotechnological and Agricultural Research, Institute of Experimental Botany, Sokolovská 6, 772 00 Olomouc, Czech Republic

2 Laboratory of Tropical Crop Improvement, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 13, Leuven, Belgium

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Citation and License

BMC Evolutionary Biology 2011, 11:103  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-11-103

Published: 16 April 2011



The classification of the Musaceae (banana) family species and their phylogenetic inter-relationships remain controversial, in part due to limited nucleotide information to complement the morphological and physiological characters. In this work the evolutionary relationships within the Musaceae family were studied using 13 species and DNA sequences obtained from a set of 19 unlinked nuclear genes.


The 19 gene sequences represented a sample of ~16 kb of genome sequence (~73% intronic). The sequence data were also used to obtain estimates for the divergence times of the Musaceae genera and Musa sections. Nucleotide variation within the sample confirmed the close relationship of Australimusa and Callimusa sections and showed that Eumusa and Rhodochlamys sections are not reciprocally monophyletic, which supports the previous claims for the merger between the two latter sections. Divergence time analysis supported the previous dating of the Musaceae crown age to the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary (~ 69 Mya), and the evolution of Musa to ~50 Mya. The first estimates for the divergence times of the four Musa sections were also obtained.


The gene sequence-based phylogeny presented here provides a substantial insight into the course of speciation within the Musaceae. An understanding of the main phylogenetic relationships between banana species will help to fine-tune the taxonomy of Musaceae.