The fungus that attacks the popular Cavendish banana variety -- which counts for more than 80 percent of banana exports -- has now spread to Africa and the Middle East, Nature reports.
Previously, the fungus had been only detected in Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, China and Australia, the science journal notes. But now the soil fungus, a strain of Fusarium oxysporum, has been found in Jordan and Mozambique, although it's not clear how it arrived in those countries.
The fungus is nearly impossible to get out of the soil, Nature notes. The pathogen rots banana plants, turning their tissues into a "putrefying mixture of brown, black, and blood-red" that smells like garbage, according to a 2011 New Yorker article about the emerging blight.
It's likely that the fungus will spread to Latin America "in the near future," researcher Gert Kema told the publication. That would be devastating to the banana industry and Americans' eating habits, given that Latin America and the Caribbean represent 80 percent of banana exports.
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