Scientists Race To Save Bananas From Extinction

What one portion of fruit looks like

According to scientists, bananas may go extinct due to a disease.

Banana crisis as tropical disease threatens to wipe out crops.

The Panama disease, a fungal infection, is spreading throughout Africa and Asia, and scientists are anxious that if it spreads to South America, it could wipe out the world's banana crop.

The concern is if it spreads to South America.

It's proven resistant to chemical treatment so far too, so the only way to stop it spreading is to quarantine off the infected fruit from all their mates. The disease originated in the 1950's. The disease started in Panama and the spread to Central America.

Because bananas are clones, the disease is able to spread very quickly from one to another, and the bananas are all in close proximity.

Richard Allen, senior conservation assessor at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, told the BBC that the type of banana they're now looking at in Madagascar "doesn't have Panama disease in it, so perhaps it has genetic traits against the disease".

The Madagascan tree grows unplantable, wild species of bananas that is immune to the Panama disease and researchers to create a hybrid of the two species of bananas to create an infection-resistant strain.

Blend them in a smoothie, mash them into cake, slice them into a sandwich (if you're five years old), try to avoid eye contact with a stranger while you eat one whole - gotta love a banana. Part of why they're durable is the climate on the island. The Madagascar banana is different from the Cavendish bananas because it grows seeds and is distasteful, but if both strains are combined, it could create a hybrid that edible and durable. But if disease spreads before researchers succesfully cross-breed the fruit, then the popular Cavendish banana, the most common type sold in the USA, may be hard to find - and eventually, the fruit could disappear altogether.

However, Cavendish bananas are under threat from Panama disease, a disease of the roots of banana plants, which is affecting plants across Asia. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues. He holds a B.A.in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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