Using the information from the satellites to track dust from areas with potential disease, they will be able to help farmers in areas where the dust and possible disease returns to the land to take necessary steps by planting non-susceptible crops and other measures to further reduce the spread of the disease.
Anyone who has grown tomatoes in their garden is most likely familiar with Fusarium wilt. Fusarium is a fungal pathogen that can survive in the soil for several decades, and impacts over 100 species of plants worldwide. Today, most tomato varieties have been bred to be resistant to Fusarium; however, there is concern that the fungus may overcome the plant’s current genetic resistance.
Fusarium has been found on six of the seven continents on Earth. Those of us who enjoy bananas, a tropical plant that is grown in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America, may have another reason to worry about Fusarium. A disease of bananas, called Panama wilt, has been threatening banana plantations. Panama wilt is caused by the Fusarium fungus, and researchers are working to control Fusarium, as bananas are susceptible to it.
Bananas were originally threatened with extinction in the 1950s by Fusarium until a new banana variety was established. This new variety is called Cavendish, and has remained resistant until the 1990s, when a different strain of Fusarium began spreading. As you may have guessed, the Cavendish banana is susceptible, and if scientists cannot find resistance or other solution, bananas may once again be on the verge of extinction.