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date: 28 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The banana (Musa) is one of the world’s most important crops and the most valuable fruit in the global market. In the search for varieties that are more pest- and disease-resistant plant breeders are increasingly looking to the wild progenitors,—as understanding its evolution is key to genetic improvement. The banana was also an important economic crop in prehistory although it is difficult to track its history of domestication and evolution due to preservation issues, the lack of reliable species identification criteria and limited archaeological evidence. Just two archaeobotanical studies of macro-remains and phytoliths, in New Guinea and Cameroon, have provided reliable identifications and interpretations to help our understanding of the origins and evolution of the banana. But to track the spread and growing importance of this plant in the diet, across the tropics and through time, we need to combine information drawn from botany, genetics, linguistics and archaeology.

Keywords: Musa, economic crop, archaeobotany, macro-remains, phytoliths

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