Panama disease could mean the end of the banana
Even if the banana is still available in every supermarket, its existence is under serious threat. The so-called Panama disease, a type of fungal infection, has spread extensively in Africa and Asia. So far, there is no antidote. Most commercial acreage for bananas is in South America. Experts fear the end of the banana if the fungal disease should reach South America.

A possible salvation for scientists in Malagasy banana , an original, non-domesticated form. This banana style with inedible fruits seems to be immune to the deadly plant disease. But even this species is close to extinction. In Madagascar, only five fruit-bearing trees are known. The species was recently placed on the red list of endangered species.
Bananas are threatened by a deadly fungal disease. In the worst case, they will soon only be seen in pictures like this one. (Image: nata_vkusidey /
Bananas could be extinct in 5 years
The scientists of the “Kew Royal Botanic Gardens” in the UK see in the genes of the Malagasy banana a possible solution against the Panama disease. But first, this form must be saved from extinction. “We can not do the research until it’s rescued,” says Richard Allen, who oversees preservation at the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, opposite BBC. If no solution to this problem is found, the exotic berry with the many healthy properties be extinct in five years.
What is Panama disease?
Panama disease is a fungal disease affecting the roots of a banana plant. It was first documented in the 1950s in Panama and spread from there in the neighboring Central American states of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala. The disease is caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubese triggered. This already extinguished the banana species Gros Michel, which was exported from Central America to the United States. Now, the world’s most cultured Cavendish banana is considered threatened. There are so far no known chemical options on how this fungal disease can be controlled.
Are wild relatives the solution?
In the ” Kew Royal Botanic Gardens “Wild relatives of crops are conserved and studied. According to the experts working there, these original species contain an incredible amount of genetic diversity that is an invaluable resource for improving crops. Many of their characteristics have the potential to make crops more resilient so they can adapt to the new climatic conditions, the researchers report.

Twelve percent of wild plants threatened with extinction
According to the scientists, currently twelve percent of all wild plant species are threatened with extinction. Clearing, urbanization, climate change and conflicts in crisis areas are the most common causes of mass extinctions. (Vb)


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