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Brazilians research fungus that combats two of the worst threats to banana cultivation

A soil-borne fungus that has not yet been studied in depth in Brazil or elsewhere, and that might be used to mitigate the harmful effects of the banana borer (Cosmopolites sordidus) and Fusarium wilt (caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum) was recently isolated by scientists at the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA), the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in the Brazilian state of São Paulo, and Bioversity International's Regional Office for the Americas in Colombia.

These researchers were supported by scientists at the São Paulo's Agency for Agribusiness Technology (APTA) in the Ribeira Valley region and the Agronomic Institute of Campinas (IAC). The fungus is called Beauveria caledonica and it was found in the Ribeira Valley, a major banana-growing area in the south of São Paulo state.

An article reporting the study's findings is published in Pest Management Science. The paper describes how B. caledonica (Bc) infects and kills C. sordidus as well as inhibiting Fusarium wilt. The full scientific name of the fungus that causes this disease is Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense (Foc).

Jeanne Scardini Marinho-Prado, second author of the article: "The paper shows the dual role performed by Bc for the first time. We isolated the fungus from naturally infected banana borers and tested it against two of the main pests affecting bananas."


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