Enjoy Your Bananas While You Can

A bananaIt looks like bananas may become extinct in a few years. The fungus Fusarium oxysporum wiped out the previous species of bananas (the Gros Michel) in the 1950s. Now it’s back, having evolved to be able to take on the previously resistant “back-up” species of banana — the Cavendish — that replaced the superior Gros Michel banana after it was wiped out.

This newly evolved form of the fungus has already wiped out banana plantations in several Pacific Rim nations, and may soon reach plantations in Latin America. Efforts are underway to breed a new strain of resistant banana, but because the bananas we eat are seedless, it’s difficult to introduce genetic variation into the breed.  All Cavendish bananas we eat are clones, making them genetically identical and, thus, all equally susceptible to the same diseases.

So, enjoy your bananas while you can.

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