Bananas and plantains ( Musa
spp.) are the most important tropical fruit crops. They form an integral component of the farming systems in the humid agroecological zones of the tropics. A broad array of applied cell and molecular techniques are increasingly being used worldwide to facilitate and enhance the handling and improvement of plantain and banana germplasm. Tissue culture is used for germplasm exchange, conservation and rapid multiplication, while in vitro
seed germination (based on embryo culture or rescue) plays a critical role in generating hybrid plants. DNA marker systems have been developed in Musa
to assist germplasm management, selection within the breeding pool or gene introgression from wild species, and for disease diagnosis. Likewise, genetic transformation using the particle gun method or through Agrobacterium
co-cultivation shows potential for the genetic betterment of the crop. This article discusses the applications of biotechnology for the genetic enhancement of banana and plantain. It highlights current advances by research teams across the world and reviews progress in molecular breeding of Musa
by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and its collaborators.