A powerful fungus attacking banana plantations could wipe the fruit off the earth’s surface, reveals a new study published in the journal PLOS Pathogens.
The parasite, named Tropical Race 4, has been raging for decades in Southeast Asia. In recent years, the parasite has reportedly spread to the Middle East and could eventually reach South America, where most of the bananas consumed in the world are produced.
There would be no way to stop the spread of the parasite, or even to contain it.
History repeats itself
Post,which relays the study, the Tropical Race 4 parasite is actually a more powerful mutation of a disease that raged fifty years ago: Panama disease.
Panana’s disease is responsible for the disappearance of the Gros Michel banana, the only variety of the fruit that was then exported all over the world. Appearing in Australia, this fungal disease was so devastating that the Gros Michel banana almost completely disappeared in just a few decades.
Cavendish banana under threat
The Tropical Race 4 pest attacks Cavendish banana plants, the variety of the fruit that is sold in virtually all supermarkets (this variety is estimated to account for 99% of the world banana market). Ironically, it was because they were resistant to Panama disease that Cavendish bananas came to dominate the market.
In fact, the way bananas are grown could explain why Panama disease – and its most recent mutation – is so threatening and devastating.
Indeed, all over the planet, bananas sold commercially are identical (or about). Being clones of each other, no plant would be able to effectively fight the disease.
Moreover, to ensure the survival of bananas, rather than developing new varieties, the researchers recommend completely reviewing our production methods.
NCE SOU: ttp://www.journaldemontreal.com/2015/12/05/la-banane-en-voie-dextinction