A fungal plant disease from Asia has been spreading across banana-growing areas of Latin America and the Caribbean since the 1960s.

New research suggests that climate change is aiding the spread of this highly destructive plant infection.

Black sigatoka, commonly known as “black leaf streak,” can reduce the fruit produced by infected plants by up to 80 percent, according to a study published Monday in the biology journal, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

According to CNN News, Dan Bebber, study author and a senior lecturer in microbial ecology at the University of Exeter say “The disease is a fungus.”It attacks the leaves of the banana plant, which means the plant can’t make as many bananas.”

First reported in Honduras in 1972, black sigatoka has since spread throughout the region, arriving in Brazil in 1998 and the Caribbean islands of Martinique, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the late 2000s. In August 2004, black sigatoka made its first appearance in Puerto Rico.

The disease now occurs as far as north Florida, the study indicates.



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