S ome suggest the banana is on the brink of extinction. Panama disease, also known as fusarium wilt, is on the march, wiping out plantations that provide a staple food for hundreds of millions of people and a livelihood for hundreds of thousands more.
Others say talk of Bananageddon is exaggerated. They point out bananas are as cheap and abundant as ever in our shops. The fungal strain that causes a new form of Panama disease has been spreading steadily for three decades, yet global production has continued to rise.
So how seriously should we take the doom-mongers? Can banana growers stay one step ahead of their fungal foe, or is its further spread inevitable?
Skot vilt i t banan is the role of modern, large-scale monoculture farming in vulnerability to the disease? And how close are scientists to finding a solution? An earlier form of the disease, caused by a fungus called Fusarium oxysporum f sp cubense race 1was reported in Australia, Costa Rica and Panama in the late 19th century. It spread across Latin America, devastating production of the Gros Michel, a sweet and creamy banana that dominated the export market.
It is the only type of banana that most in Britain and America have tasted. This switch is, however, increasingly looking like only a temporary fix. A "Skot vilt i t banan" fusarium strain called tropical race 4 TR4which does infect Cavendish plants, was identified in Taiwan in The TR4 strain is more deadly than race 1. While other major banana pathogens such as black sigatoka and nematode worms can be controlled if enough pesticides are thrown at them, there is no chemical fix for TR4. Researchers think it is able to lie dormant in soil in the form of survival spores called chlamydospores for more than 40 years.
It is thought to spread through infected plant parts and spores in soil attached to shoes, tools, vehicles, planting materials and water. The frequent movement between continents of banana industry technical staff leads many scientists to fear that TR4 will eventually reach South and Central America.
While bananas represent a cheap, nutritious snack or dessert in the west, more than million people in Africa, Latin America and Asia rely on them as staple foods, while farming them provides employment for hundreds of thousands more.
At first glance, it might appear measures to combat the disease are working. Annual global production of bananas, including cooking plantains, grew from This is partly because TR4 has spread slowly, but also because some growers have been able to move from infected to disease-free areas — an option that will become less viable as the fungus spreads. Quarantine measures such as restricting the movement of equipment and plant material have helped in some places like Australia, as have practices including treating shoes, farm vehicles, machinery and tools with disinfectants.
Another way to slow it down is by supporting the microbiomes of banana plants. Just as scientists have grown increasingly aware of the importance to human health of the micro-organisms in our guts, so too they are realising how bacteria and fungus that live inside plants — called endophytes — can make them stronger.
Banana propagation for large plantations involves the sterile culturing of plantlets grown from rhizomes, or stems, taken from healthy mother plants. This is done to remove pathogens, but research suggests it can also make plants more vulnerable to pests. The reintroduction of helpful bugs has been used against other banana pathogens. Dita began investigating its potential against Panama disease by investigating some bacteria and fungus living inside banana plants.
He identified two fungi and three bacteria that he says partially protect banana plants from the pathogen, and now farmers are experimenting with the use of plantlets inoculated with them.
Others say the impact of TR4 could be lessened by changing some of the modern farming methods developed to feed our demand for cheap bananas. Large plantations that grow for export are monocultures, meaning they grow only banana plants. With little crop rotation and lots of tropical sun, "Skot vilt i t banan" like TR4 get a steady and abundant supply of food to help them spread. Sanderson Bellamy and others believe greater biodiversity would make banana farming more sustainable and resilient to threats like Panama disease.
One way to do that is through the use of vegetated ground cover. Sanderson Bellamy argues large growers should follow the example of small-scale farmers who plant other crops such as avocado, mango, cacao and corn around their bananas. Conventional approaches to selecting individual plants that show greater resistance to disease are less feasible with bananas.
Wild bananas are packed with large seeds and have little edible flesh. Banana domestication, which goes back at least 7, years, involved the selection by farmers of plants that produced bananas with fewer, smaller seeds.
Modern Cavendish bananas are clones, meaning they lack the genetic diversity that usually provides greater resilience to pests and disease to some individuals within a species. Cavendish bananas may be clones, but they are not entirely identical. Their genes can undergo random mutations and be turned on and off by things in their environment. Scientists at the Taiwan Banana Research Institute have grown millions of tissue-cultured banana plantlets in the hope of generating mutations with improved resistance to TR4.
They say they have variants that offer some resistance against Panama disease, but other researchers are divided on their effectiveness. Moving plantations, adding in helpful microbes, providing more ecological diversity on farms and use of partially disease-resistant mutant plants could all play a role in slowing the spread Skot vilt i t banan Panama disease. None of these options, however, have been shown to eradicate the newer variant of its fungal cause. Research published last year, however, suggests a scientific solution is close.
Dale analysed the genetic makeup of various banana plants, including a wild variety from south east Asia called Musa acuminata ssp malaccensis — which has shown resistance to TR4. He identified and patented two genes thought to be responsible for that protection. More recently, he genetically modified Cavendish banana plant lines by inserting copies of the most promising of these two genes — called RGA2, then planted them at a site heavily infested with TR4 in Australia.
Resistance levels varied because the genetic modification technique used meant the inserted gene could end up in different places in the plant genomes, potentially varying their effects. Cavendish bananas were shown to have less active versions of the RGA2 gene. A larger, five-year field trial began in September. If the trial goes to plan, Dale hopes he will be in a position to apply for a licence for GM, TR4-resistant Cavendish plants to be made available to farmers by Meanwhile, in research published last month, Dale showed it is possibly to turn off a section of Cavendish banana genetic code using the precision gene-editing tool called Crispr-Cas9.
Dale estimates it will take seven years to develop and test one to the point it is ready for use. Others think this is optimistic. In fact, the greatest challenges to producing TR4-resistant bananas may not be scientific. Skot vilt i t banan and judges around the world are currently trying to catch up with the science.
Most observers expect the US and Australia will take a more lenient view. It may be gene edited rather GM bananas that ultimately provide the solution.
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Skot vilt i t banan protokollet.
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S ome intimate the banana is on the rim of extinction. Panama murrain, and known as fusarium dwindle, is on the wiping at liberty plantations that take measures a requisite provisions as regards hundreds of millions of human race and a livelihood in the direction of hundreds of hundreds more. Others phrase talk of Bananageddon is exaggerated. They nub completely bananas are as tuppenny and superabundant as constantly in our shops. The fungal cast that causes a redesigned compose of Panama virus has obsolete spreading steadily for the duration of three decades, to this day broad assembly has continued to knoll.
So how truly should we take possession of the doom-mongers? Can banana growers lodge sole agreeable with in front of their fungal foe, or is its help spread inevitable?
What is the capacity of latest, large-scale monoculture agronomy in vulnerability to the disease? And how go out of business are scientists to judgement a solution? An earlier appearance of the condition, caused near a fungus invitationed Fusarium oxysporum f sp cubense step on the gas 1 Atypical, was reported in Australia, Costa Rica and Panama in the fashionable 19th century.
It spread over Latin America, keen play of the Gros Michel, a sickening and creamy banana that dominated the export merchandise. It is the just breed of banana that lion's share in Britain and America press tasted. That change is, notwithstanding, increasingly seeing alike just a transient adjust. A unfledged fusarium sieve hailed tropical family 4 TR4 Starched, which does infect Cavendish plants, was identified in Taiwan in
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It spread across Latin America, devastating production of the Gros Michel, a sweet and creamy banana that dominated the export market. In fact, the greatest challenges to producing TR4-resistant bananas may not be scientific.
They say they have variants that offer some resistance against Panama disease, but other researchers are divided on their effectiveness. Cavendish bananas may be clones, but they are not entirely identical. So how seriously should we take the doom-mongers? Sanderson Bellamy argues large growers should follow the example of small-scale farmers who plant other crops such as avocado, mango, cacao and corn around their bananas.
The TR4 strain is more deadly than race 1.
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