Prepare yourselves for a tearful goodbye, or buy a big freezer and stock up; bananas may not exist in the next 5 to 10 years.
It’s all because of three fungal diseases, which have evolved to the point where they are now considered a lethal threat. The genetic makeup of Cavendish bananas contributes to this perfect storm, as they are all clones and thus all have the same genotype.
Researchers reported their devastating finding online in PLOS Genetics, saying that the discovery would assist them in developing disease-proof banana plants. But is it too late?
We have demonstrated that two of the three most serious banana fungal diseases have become more virulent by increasing their ability to manipulate the banana’s metabolic pathways and make use of its nutrients. This parallel change in metabolism of the pathogen and the host plant has been overlooked until now and may represent a ‘molecular fingerprint’ of the adaption process. It is really a wake-up call to the research community to look at similar mechanisms between pathogens and their plant hosts.
If bananas do die out, we’re going to have a big problem on our hands. The humble fruit is one of the world’s top five staple foods, with 107 million tonnes being produced annually in 120 countries around the world. That’s a helluva lot of banana bread, smoothies and fruit salads!
The three fungal infections, all of which are part of the Sigatoka complex, already reduces banana yields by 40% – requiring farmers to apply fungicide to their crops 50 times a year.
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“30 to 35 percent of banana production cost is in fungicide applications,” added Stergiopoulos. “Because many farmers can’t afford the fungicide, they grow bananas of lesser quality, which bring them less income.”
Unsurprisingly, when the fungus is not being controlled it poses numerous threats to human health and the environment.
I don't think I would've been able to take life's bullshit if bananas didn't exist.
— What (@Jo_Maybe) July 19, 2016
my life would be so different if bananas didn't exist
— sar (@dogeewhisperer) June 13, 2015
I'm honestly not sure what I would do if bananas didn't exist!
— McKenna. (@MckennaNeubrand) September 22, 2014
Let’s hope these scientists can come up with a way to save our favourite fruit. We don’t want to live in a world where bananas don’t exist.
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