Bananas could be extinct in 5 to 10 years because of an evolving fungal disease.
The University of California, Davis and in the Netherlands found that three fungal diseases have evolved into a lethal threat to bananas.
"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 pathways and make use of its nutrients,” said UC Davis plant pathologist Ioannis Stergiopoulos, who led the effort to sequence two of the fungal genomes.
“This parallel change in metabolism of the pathogen and the host plant has been overlooked until now and may represent a ‘molecular fingerprint’ of the adaption process,” he said. “It is really a wake-up call to the research community to look at similar mechanisms between pathogens and their plant hosts.”
Researchers believe that farmers will need to apply fungicide up to 50 times a year to combat the threat.
About 100 million tons of bananas are produced annually in nearly 120 countries.