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Banana disease boosted by climate change

9th June 2019

Black Sigatoka disease emerged from Asia in the late 20th Century and has recently completed its invasion of banana-growing areas in Latin America and the Caribbean. International trade and increased banana production have aided the spread of Black Sigatoka, which can reduce the fruit produced by infected plants by up to 80%. The new study, by the University of Exeter, says changes to moisture and temperature conditions have increased the risk of Black Sigatoka by more than 44% in these areas since the 1960s. “Black Sigatoka is caused by a fungus, Pseudocercospora fijiensis, whose life cycle is strongly determined by weather and microclimate,” said Dr. Daniel Bebber, of the University of Exeter. “This research shows that climate change has made temperatures better for spore germination and growth, and made crop canopies wetter, raising the risk of Black Sigatoka infection in many banana growing areas of Latin America. Despite the overall rise in the risk of Black Sigatoka in the areas we examined, drier conditions in some parts of Mexico and Central America have reduced infection risk.” The study combined experimental data on Black Sigatoka infections with detailed climate information over the past 60 years. The paper, published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, is entitled: “Climate change effects on black sigatoka disease of banana.”

Taken from the ISPP Monthly Newsletter – click here to check it out.