In DepthPlant Health

Banana fungus puts Latin America on alert

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Science  19 Jul 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6450, pp. 207-208
DOI: 10.1126/science.365.6450.207

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Summary

In a long-feared development, an extremely damaging disease of bananas has apparently reached Latin America. Late last week, the Colombian Agricultural Institute in Bogotá officially acknowledged that four plantations in northern Colombia have been quarantined because of suspected infection with Fusarium wilt tropical race 4 (TR4), a fungus that kills plants by clogging their vascular system. Already widespread in Asia, the disease can eventually wipe out entire plantations. The finding has yet to be confirmed—results from genome sequencing are expected in early August—but already countries in the region are on high alert. A major outbreak of TR4 could ruin many farmers and drive up banana prices globally. New ways to battle the scourge are on the horizon, including transgenic bananas that can resist the fungus.

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