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Bananas on the brink of extinction?

08 July 2018

According to the BBC, a wild banana that may hold the key to protecting the world's edible banana crop has been added to the extinction list.

Plant biologists are rushing to create a hybrid of the two species of banana in the hope of creating a infection-resistant strain. But if disease spreads before researchers successfully cross-breed the fruit, then the popular Cavendish banana may be hard to find - and eventually, the fruit could disappear altogether. Even though other bananas exist, which can be different colors and have very different tastes, it's easy to see how using the same exact type of banana for most of the country and much else of the world too could become a serious issue if a deadly parasite or pathogen spreads. The salvation could come from a rare Madagascan tree.

Richard Allen, senior conservation assessor at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, said the species (Ensete perrieri) could have in-built tolerance to drought or disease.

Porter continued that they are proud of the banana's heritage and still grow the Madagascar plant in the greenhouse so that any development could ensure the future of the Cavendish bananas.

The Madagascan banana has evolved in isolation on an island cut off from the mainland, and may have special properties.

As a result, it has now been listed on the official Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The banana grows on the edge of forests, where it is vulnerable to damage from severe weather events as well as from logging, fires and the clearing of forests for farming.

Dr Gert Kema, expert in global plant production at the Wageningen University in the Netherlands, told MailOnline: 'Cavendish is now collapsing and there is nothing to replace it.On top of that many local cultivars - or varieties - are equally susceptible'. Cavendish bananas were named after William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire, who started growing them at his Chatsworth House estate in Derbyshire in 1834.

Because Cavendish bananas are genetically identical, the disease is able to rapidly spread from one to another.

Scientists are racing to save bananas from a tropical disease that is threatening crops across the world.

Panama disease, which originated in the 1950's is a fungal disease that attacks the banana's roots.

In the 1950s, Panama disease devastated a type of banana known as the "Gros Michel" (often known as Big Mike).

Bananas on the brink of extinction?