Fungus could be key to better bananas

A fungus commonly found in soil will be tested by Queensland researchers in their search for environmentally friendly solutions to pest problems plaguing the state's banana industry.

James Cook University scientists will study the Beauveria bassiana fungus, known to infect and kill tiny insects that feed on leaves and developing bananas.

The insects, known as rust thrips, cause a rust-coloured scarring that becomes more obvious as the banana grows.

"Rust thrips don't affect the eating quality of the banana, but they cause them to be downgraded and sell for less," Dr Tobin Northfield said.

The study, which is expected to be wrapped up by the end of next year, will determine whether the fungus can be used as a biopesticide against the insects.