The Ensete perrieri banana, which is listed as extinct, only grows in Madagascar and may hold the key to protecting the world’s edible banana crop in the future. Most of the banana varieties consumed around the world are bananas, which are susceptible to plant pests.
Scientists are scrambling to develop new varieties of bananas that are both delicious and resistant to yellow leaf disease, a trait that Madagascar bananas may have that evolved in isolation on an island isolated from the mainland.
The Madagascar variety of banana (Ensete perrieri) may have built-in resistance to drought and pests and diseases. It does not have yellow leaf disease, so it may have genetic traits to resist this disease. There are currently only 5 adult trees left in the wild.
Only by studying this banana will we know if this is the case, so it must be protected, otherwise there will be no bananas to study.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has added Madagascar bananas to its latest official red list.
Preserving this wild banana is important because it has large seeds that provide an opportunity to find genes that could improve cultivated bananas. Conserving Madagascar’s wild bananas offers the opportunity to collect seeds and observe the plant’s genetic makeup.