Banana extinction threat overrated, says Australian expert
18 August 2016
Banana lovers can relax: reports of the imminent death of the popular yellow fruit have been greatly exaggerated, according to a Queensland expert.
Research published on the online journal PLOS Genetics in early August revealed a disease called the Sigatoka complex had the potential to wipe out the world's banana supplies within five years (See: Scientists battling to save bananas from extinction in just 5-10 years).
The Sigatoka complex is made up of three fungal diseases, with black Sigatoka posing the greatest risk to bananas worldwide.
But University of Queensland's Professor Andre Drenth says the disease isn't present in Australia and the country is well equipped to deal with it if it does arrive.
"Black Sigatoka has only been in Australia once, in 2001 in Tully, and it was quickly eradicated," he told AAP.
There is extensive monitoring of the banana population, and molecular diagnostic tests to determine if the fungal disease reappears, Professor Drenth said.
There are also strict guidelines and security measures around not importing any foreign bananas into Australia to ensure the disease doesn't return.
More than five million domestically grown bananas are eaten every day in Australia, according to the Australian Banana Growers Council.