Bananas may disappear in the next 10 years
Unfortunate news for lovers of banana pudding, banana cream pie, and just of the fruit itself: a fungal disease may wipe them out in the next decade.
Researchers at the University of California at Davis have reported that a three-fungus disease complex called Sigatoka has already eliminated 40 percent of banana output.
"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," said Davis plant pathologist and one of the main researchers, Ioannis Stergiopoulos.
Stergiopoulos is calling this a "wake-up call" to scientists. Already, banana farmers have to make 50 fungicide applications per year due to the threat of disease -- which accounts for about a third of bananas costs.
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People assume that bananas will be around for ever, but this is clearly not the case. The banana we usually see in grocery stores is the Cavendish variety. Cavendish bananas originated from one plant, so they are clones of each other. This means they are genetically the same -- so if one dies, they all could.
Stergiopoulos hope he and his team can develop a strain of banana that is stronger and resistant to these fungal diseases. If not, this could mean the end of one of the world's staple foods.