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Male fertility and occurrence of 2n gametes in East African Highland bananas (Musa spp.)


The quantity and quality of pollen produced by a genotype are important attributes to be considered in the selection of male parents for breeding. The objective of this research was to determine the quantity and quality of pollen in 13 selected East African Highland bananas (EAHB) in relation to six diploids commonly used as male parents. Pollen quantity was scored on a scale of 0–6 while the variation of pollen stainability along the rachis was determined using acetocarmine glycerol jelly. Actual male fertility was determined by using pollen from the EAHB varieties on M. acuminata spp. burmannicoides, ‘Calcutta 4’, as the female. The diameter of 200 viable pollen grains was measured under a microscope with the aid of a graduated eyepiece. Significant differences were obtained for mean pollen stainability and pollen diameter. The pollen stainability for diploids was higher than that for the EAHB. Node numbers contributed significantly to variation of pollen stainability in EAHB (P ≤ 0.01) and ‘Pisang lilin’ (P ≤ 0.001). ‘Pisang lilin’ and the EAHB varieties had about 100 nodes as opposed to about 200 in other diploids. The EAHB varieties produced less pollen than most of the diploids. The actual male fertility of EAHB varieties was low (1 seed/bunch), compared to that of ‘Calcutta 4’ (223.3 seeds/bunch) and ‘Pisang lilin’ (13.7 seeds/bunch). Although the production of 2n pollen in EAHB varieties was low (0–7%), the potential exists for using them in new breeding approaches.

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The senior author acknowledges the input of the late Dirk R. Vuylsteke and Dr. J Hartman (IITA, Uganda), and Prof P. Rubaihayo, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda in this research.

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Correspondence to Michael Pillay.

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Ssebuliba, R.N., Tenkouano, A. & Pillay, M. Male fertility and occurrence of 2n gametes in East African Highland bananas (Musa spp.). Euphytica 164, 53–62 (2008).

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  • Banana
  • Pollen quantity/staining/fertility
  • Actual male fertility
  • 2n gametes