Tuesday, 22 December 2015

There will soon be no bananas

Probably. Here from a fantastic article on fungi in The New Yorker:

A particular strain of Fusarium, Tropical Race One, rendered the original globalized banana variety, the Gros Michel, commercially extinct in the first half of the twentieth century. Fortunately, the banana variety that fills our grocery stores today, the Cavendish, was resistant to Tropical Race One, and it eventually replaced the Gros Michel, although not before widespread banana shortages. Unfortunately, the Cavendish is not resistant to Tropical Race Four. The strain emerged in Taiwan in the late nineteen-sixties and has subsequently destroyed the banana industry in China, Indonesia, and Malaysia, and put a significant dent in the Australian harvest. Once a plantation is infected, there is no way to save the banana trees, and, because the fungus remains in the soil, the land cannot be used to raise bananas again. The only way to combat F. oxysporum f. sp. cubense is to make sure that it does not spread.

This really isn't a joke. If this Tropical Race Four variety of Fusarium oxysporum reaches the Americas it is simply a matter of time before we have no bananas. As is clear - there is no resistant variety of banana to replace the Cavendish.

Enjoy the friendly yellow fruit while you can.


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