Possibility of Cavendish bananas going extinct becomes reality

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The sweet and plump Cavendish banana has a good chance of going extinct due to a powerful fungus infecting trees across the globe
By Jason Spencer | Dec 03, 2015
What do smoothie lovers, Minion fans, and fruit fanatics all have in common? They would all go bananas if their favorite yellow fruit were to disappear from the world.

And according to recent updates, a world without the sweet and plump bananas we are all familiar with might become a reality sooner than many people expect.

Latino One reports that the Cavendish, the most popular and widely consumed species of banana, is under attack from a strong and persistent fungus strain. Deemed "Tropical Race 4," it has already done damage to trees in Asia, the Middle East, and Australia.

And with Tropical Race 4 recently making it to Panama, it seems that the extinction of this fruit favorite is imminent.

Surprisingly, this is not the first time Panama has dealt with a killer fungus wiping out banana plants. A strain of fungi known as fusarium oxysporum nearly wiped out another popular contender in the banana world over 50 years ago.

"Panama disease isn't new. It drove another type of banana crop, the Gros Michel, found in Costa Rica and Panama, to near-extinction in the 1960s. It took 20 years for researchers to pinpoint the exact fungus that was causing the devastation," said a report from Medical Daily.

With Tropical Race 4 spreading like wildfire, researchers suggest banana farmers look into possibilities of cultivating another type of banana to replace the Cavendish. Though researchers say it won't be easy.

"Developing new banana cultivars requires major investments in research and development," wrote researchers in an article published to PLOS Pathogens, "[as well as] the recognition of the banana as a global staple and cash crop that supports the livelihoods of millions of small-holder farmers."



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