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Breakthrough in protecting bananas from Panama disease


by University of Exeter
Exeter scientists have provided hope in the fight to control Panama disease in bananas.

Bananas are amongst the most popular fruits eaten world-wide. They are grown and eaten locally, so providing food for almost half a billion people, and banana exports generate precious income.

In the 1950s, Panama disease, caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum cubense Race 1, decimated the world’s bananas supply. This disaster was overcome by the introduction of a new Cavendish variety bananas. However, a new race of the fungus, known as Tropical Race 4, recently swept across the continents and through the Cavendish banana plantations. This new Panama disease threat is of particular significance as Cavendish bananas account for about 40% of world production and more than 90% of all exports. All efforts to control the disease in Cavendish bananas have, so far, failed.

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