Bananas to go Extinct

Yes, you heard that right, everybody’s favorite yellow fruit (sorry lemons) will soon go the way of the dodo. Recent studies have shown that a fungus, known as Tropical Race 4, is currently ravaging banana populations worldwide. This rapidly spreading fungal pathogen has actually already claimed some other banana varieties, such as the Gros Michel strain. This fungus is resistant to fungicides  and attacks a banana plant’s root system so that the plant eventually becomes dehydrated, no matter how much you water it. Ever since the extinction of the Gros Michel, the world almost completely switched over to the Cavendish strain of bananas, which was once thought to be immune to Tropical Race 4, but it has now been discovered that that is not the case. The main problem here is that bananas have been bred to be seedless. Without seeds, that means that every banana is essentially a clone of the other. Therefore, any disease that affects one banana, will affect them all. Plant researcher Nadia Ordonez stated in the PLOS Pathogens study that the world needs “drastic strategy changes” and  that “developing new banana (species) requires major investments in research and development” in order to avoid total global banana annihilation.

The culprit that is responsible for our current banana problem, this fungus is also called Panama Disease. Photo by Keith Weller

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