One strain of banana could possibly be no more— and it's all because of a fatal tropical disease targeting them around the world.
A Daily Mail report reveals that the fungal disease Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense (better known as Panama disease) has already spread across several continents such as Asia and Africa. But experts stress that if it hits South America, the most commonly sold strain of banana will become extinct as a result.
While the news is disturbing on its own, the added revelation that the current efforts haven't worked to end the disease's spread makes everything look grimmer. Experts have been forced to quarantine farmland in a feeble attempt to stop, or at the very least slow down the spread. But even this has its drawbacks, as the disease's spores can stay dormant for decades in the affected soil. Then, once conditions are right, the disease can simply come back and infect more bananas at a later time.
There is a glimmer of hope, though. A rare Madagascan tree is known to grow a less popular species of bananas that are immune to Panama disease. With that knowledge in hand, experts are working hard to create a new kind of banana by combining this with the Cavendish banana's genetic makeup. The idea is that this will create a new species of banana that are incapable of contracting this highly contagious disease.
There is still a lot of uncertainty and worry surrounding the future of the banana. It's not yet clear if experts will be able to create a new species that's immune to Panama disease before the Cavendish banana is extinct. If that turns out to be the case, we could very well face the reality of this well-known fruit being a thing of the past. Only time will tell if conditions will improve enough to save the banana for good.