May 10th – Fusarium is a large genus of filamentous fungi, part of a group often referred to as hyphomycetes, widely distributed in soil and associated with plants. Most species are harmless saprobes, and are relatively abundant members of the soil microbial community. Some species produce mycotoxins in cereal crops that can affect human and animal health if they enter the food chain. The main toxins produced by these Fusarium species are fumonisins and trichothecenes. The name of Fusarium comes from Latin fusus, meaning a spindle, and looking at the spores that it creates you can see why. The scariest thing about Fusarium other than its human pathogenicity is that a species of this fungus is currently jeopardizing the future of bananas as we know it! There is a species called Fusarium oxysporum that is nonpathogenic to humans but causes Fusarium wilt (Panama disease). Which is the most serious disease of banana, threatening 80% of the world’s banana production, most of which is planted with the susceptible Cavendish varieties. Bananas are a staple food in the diet of millions throughout the subtropics and tropics, and the spread of Panama disease could have devastating effects on both large scale production and subsistence farms.