Banana Extinction
The price of bananas is displayed on a digital price tag at a 365 by Whole Foods Market grocery store ahead of its opening day in Los Angeles, U.S., May 24, 2016. Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

University of Queensland’s professor Andre Drenth believes that the banana extinction threat is greatly exaggerated. He said the disease Sigatoka complex that has the potential to wipe out all banana supply in the world in as less as five years is not present in Australia. Moreover, in case of an outbreak, the country is totally equipped to deal with such an outbreak.

Drenth argued that Australia carries out extensive monitoring of its banana population and molecular diagnostic tests are in place to detect the prevalence of the infection. Strict security measures and guidelines are followed Down Under to ensure foreign bananas are not imported into Australia.

As per the Australian Banana Growers Council, more than five million domestically grown bananas are consumed in Australia every day and Black Sigatoka appeared only once in the country back in 2001 in Tully. It was swiftly eradicated, Drenth told APP, reports

A research, published in PLOS Genetics, found that the three fungal diseases that make up Sigatoka complex, not only shut down the immune systems of the banana trees but metabolism of the fungi even adapted to match that of the host plant. This allowed the fungi to produce enzymes that broke down the plant’s cell walls to feed on carbohydrates and sugar.

Out of the three fungal diseases, black Sigatoka was found to be the greatest threat to the 100 million tonnes of bananas grown every year in almost 120 countries. The other two fungal diseases are eumusae leaf spot and yellow Sigatoka.

University of California plant pathologist Ioannis Stergiopoulos arrived at the findings after analysing the fungi attack by sequencing genomes of black Sigatoka and eumusae leaf spot. He next compared the results with the previously sequenced yellow Sigatoka genome.

“We have demonstrated that two of the three most serious banana fungal diseases have become more virulent by increasing their ability to manipulate the banana’s metabolic path ways and make use of its nutrients,” Stergiopoulos told Digg.

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