Researchers at the University of California, Davis, and in the Netherlands have discovered how three fungal diseases have evolved into a lethal threat to the world’s bananas.
The discovery, reported in the online journal PLOS Genetics, better equips researchers to develop hardier, disease-resistant banana plants and more effective disease-prevention treatments.
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The banana is one of the world’s top five staple foods. . . .
. . .[T]he global banana industry could be wiped out in just five to 10 years by fast-advancing fungal diseases. And that would prove devastating to millions of small-scale farmers who depend on the fruit for food, fiber and income. Already, Sigatoka — a three-fungus disease complex — reduces banana yields by 40 percent.
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“Thirty to 35 percent of banana production cost is in fungicide applications,” Stergiopoulos said. “Because many farmers can’t afford the fungicide, they grow bananas of lesser quality, which bring them less income.”
And for those growers who can afford fungicide, the applications pose environmental and human-health risks.
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