But the banana faces major problems: the plant is susceptible to a number of fungal diseases. During the middle of the last century, the 'Gros Michel' banana variety was wiped out by the Panama disease, a disease caused by the soil fungus Fusarium oxysporum, which rapidly spread around the world from Central America. It led to the collapse of the banana industry in Latin America, followed by a huge unemployment.
The 'Cavendish' was selected as the successor to the 'Gros Michel': not as tasty, a shorter shelf life and more vulnerable during transport, but resistant to Panama disease. Sadly though, the party lasted only a few decades, because the 'Cavendish' succumbed to a new, mutated variant of the Panama disease.
|[Wild banana with its pea-sized seeds]|
But Dutch scientists came to the rescue of the beleaguered banana: Gert Kema, a researcher at the University of Wageningen is trying to build resistance into banana varieties. His promising discovery is that a resistance gene in tomato recognizes the fungus that causes black Sigatoka in banana. That gene is now being incorporated into the banana plant.
The tomato is thus a possible saviour for the banana.
More info can be read here.