Are Bananas Going Extinct? Experts Are Concerned

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Did you know that every year, humans consume an average of 100 billion bananas? From smoothies to sundaes to breads and cakes, these curvy, yellow fruits play a large part in many of our diets. But scientists are now concerned that this many not be true for long. Much to the banana-lover’s demise, Business Insider just released information explaining that the most common type of banana may be at risk of extinction due to a fruit-killing fungus.

Why Are Scientists Worried About Bananas Going Extinct?

Though there are around 1,000 varieties of bananas worldwide, Cavendish bananas make up roughly 47 percent of all bananas consumed by humans for many reasons, including their high resistance to disease and long shelf life. But, Cavendish bananas are now facing a severe threat to their existence due to Panama Disease (Fusarium wilt) tropical race 4, or TR4. The plant-eating virus begins at the banana tree’s roots and then spreads further, ultimately disabling the banana’s ability to absorb water or undergo photosynthesis.

TR4 has been harming banana trees for decades, and even contributed to the loss of the Gros Michel variation of banana, but scientists are still unsure on how to save the Cavendish. Luckily, professor and leader of the banana biotechnology program at Queensland University of Technology, James Dale, assures that “The disease moves slowly, so we have at least a decade before the impact is drastic.” In the meantime, scientists are experimenting with creating a TR4-resistant Cavendish banana through technologies like grafting and genetic modification.

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