Featured Image for Prepare for Bananageddon: Bananas may not exist in 5 to 10 years

Prepare for Bananageddon: Bananas may not exist in 5 to 10 years

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?

Ioannis Stergiopoulos, a plant pathologist at the University of California explains:

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.

You might also like

»Japan is absolutely frothing over this Cat Banana anime series
»When science collides with food: Five insane ways you never knew science meddled with your favourite grub

“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.

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.

Techly is looking for an intern!

We need a Sydney-based smartypants who’s keen to flex their writing muscles on fun and interesting copy. Reckon that’s you?
Send us your CV and explain why you’re the perfect fit for Techly!

About the author

Cormack is a Melbourne based freelance writer and photographer. He loves to travel, drink red wine, and spin records. On the weekends you’ll most likely find him eating pork buns or shaking up cocktails for his friends.

Leave a comment

Comments (1)


    Wednesday 17 August 2016

    On the other hand, can it be good for the fruit, for the farmers, for the consumers, or for the environment to continue with a crop that requires a staggeringly high load of fungicide. Fifty applications a year is frankly ridiculous. Maybe it’s not beyond the wit of man to develop some of the many hundreds of alternative varieties of banana if the bland Cavendish is so costly in terms of toxic load.