Biotechnological studies on enset (Ensete ventricosum (Welw.) Cheesman)), a food security staple food crop of Ethiopia
Several studies relevant for enset improvement and strategic conservation were carried out of which two studies focused on the molecular characterization and one on cultivated enset from nine regions of Ethiopia and the second on five wild enset populations around Bonga area. All the 111 cultivated enset clones were found distinct of each other. In both studies, the genetic diversity among populations was not related to the genetic distances indicating that the current cultivated clones were originated from a limited number of wild progenitors. In addition, the limited gene flow between cultivated and wild enset clones were due to many factors necessitating for ex situ and in situ conservation of wild enset. The third study centered on the development of an efficient micro-propagation protocol for enset that yield up to 75 propagules through wounding the meristem and growing them on modified nutrient medium. Another study developed transformation procedures for enset using both Agrobacterium tumefaciens and particle bombardment as revealed by ß-glucuronidase (Gus) gene expression. A study by the author also revealed identification of endophytes representing 16 bacteria, and 7 yeasts and the profile of cultureable yeasts and lactic acid bacteria from traditionally fermented enset food product, kocho using 16S/26S rDNA sequence analysis. It is interesting to note that Candida ethanolica known to control bacterial wilt and Pantoea agglomerans which infect plants, animals and humans were also identified amongst the microbes using sequence analysis of 16S/26S rDNA. Furthermore, the isolation of the spore forming Bacillus anthrax, the causative agent of anthrax, was critical emphasizing the importance of sanitation and hygiene in enset production, handling and processing. The information generated could be important to develop a starter culture which facilitates fermentation without compromising, kocho quality and the safety of kocho consumers.
Keywords/phrases: Enset, Food spoilage, Genetic diversity, Micropropagation, Transformation