Alarm as devastating banana fungus reaches the Americas

The region produces most of the world’s banana exports — and the fungus affects the most popular commercial variety.

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Aug 22, 2019
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A banana-killing fungus that has been laying waste to crops in Asia and Australia for decades is now in the Americas, which produce the majority of the world’s banana exports.

Colombia declared a national emergency on 8 August after laboratory results confirmed the presence of the fungus, known as Fusarium wilt tropical race 4 (TR4), within its borders. This marks the first confirmation of TR4 in the Americas. The Colombia Agricultural Institute (ICA), a federal agency tasked with overseeing agricultural health in the country, says that about 175 hectares have been affected so far.

Officials quarantined four farms on the Guajira Peninsula in the northern part of the country in June, when they first suspected that TR4 was killing banana plants in the region. But scientists now fear that the fungus has spread beyond the containment zone and could threaten banana production in the Americas for decades to come.

By: Jonathan Lambert/Nature Newshttps://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02489-5

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