New field test detects banana fungus TR4 faster than ever

New field test detects banana fungus TR4 faster than ever

A field test that is faster and more practical than laboratory tests for detecting Tropical Race 4 (TR4) – the Fusarium strain that causes the much-feared Panama disease in bananas has been developed by researchers from Wageningen University & Research. This so-called LAMP test (from Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification assay) allows banana farmers and authorities to take immediate measures once suspect plants test positive for the fungus in order to prevent further spreading. The LAMP test was developed by a research team led by professor Gert Kema (WUR).

Read the article to find out more about the test: https://www.wur.nl/en/news-wur/Show/New-field-test-detects-banana-fungus-TR4-faster-than-ever.htm

How does the LAMP test work? Check out the video

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First report of Panama disease in Cavendish bananas caused by TR4 in Colombia

First report of Panama disease in Cavendish bananas caused by TR4 in Colombia

An international research team has scientifically confirmed the presence of the fungus Fusarium Tropical Race 4 (TR4) in Cavendish banana plants in Colombia. The findings are published in an open source article in the journal Plant Disease.

Read more: https://www.wur.nl/en/news-wur/show-day/First-report-of-Panama-disease-in-Cavendish-bananas-caused-by-TR4-in-Colombia.htm

Or check out the publication: https://apsjournals.apsnet.org/doi/10.1094/PDIS-09-19-1922-PDN

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PhD managing Panama Disease in the Philippines

PhD managing Panama Disease in the Philippines

On 27 August 2019 Maricar Salacinas defended her PhD research at Wageningen University on Fusarium odoratissimum Tropical race 4 (TR4) in the Philippines. In this research she used molecular diagnostic tools to examine the spatial dispersal, epidemiology and management options of Panama disease in the banana belt of the Philippines. The research contributes to the development of evidence-based and cost-effective management strategies in combating Panama disease.

One of the important outcomes for combating strategies was that the pathogen was found distributed across soil layers of up to 1 meter below the surface of profiles cropped with either Cavendish or local banana cultivars. Making the efficacy of field sanitation by burning inefficient to eliminate TR4 propagules in the soil and therefore it should be reconsidered.

Anaerobic soil disinfestation from two commercially available organic amendments as a biological option for Panama disease management showed promises under laboratory and field conditions to contribute to short-term management options to continue banana production in Panama disease affected farms.

Detection tool

A rapid and highly DNA specific detection assay based on Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) for Fusarium odoratissimum Tropical race 4, was developed that is pertinent under laboratory and field conditions. This developed assay offers a powerful tool for epidemiological study on TR4 and is indispensable for implementing quarantine measures.

Bananas

Banana, either the cooking or the dessert type, is regarded as one of the most important staple or crop. Currently the global banana production is threatened by a destructive soil-borne fungus Fusarium odoratissimum Tropical race 4 (TR4) causing Panama disease in banana. The on-going dispersal of the pathogen raises the fear of the demise of our beloved banana. As of this writing, there is no concrete solution available to combat the disease, hence manifold of management strategies are explored. That these strategies are needed is made clear by the recent and first outbreaks in Latin America.

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Future of bananas in the Americas

Future of bananas in the Americas

With the confirmation of the Panama disease Tropical Race 4 (TR4) in bananas in Latin America, bananas will become scarcer and prices will rise. This will mostly impact the people for which the bananas are a fundamental source of nutrition.

The analysis of banana plants and soil, and thereby confirming the presence of the TR4 strain in the Columbia was done by a Dutch team, with researchers of Keygene, and the University of Utrecht, and Wageningen University & Research

As there is no known fungicide or biocontrol measure that has proven effective against TR4, making eradication of the fungus hard or impossible. Commercial plantations grow almost exclusively a monoculture, the Cavandish banana variety, which helps the efficiency of the market chain, but leaves it vulnerable to diseases.

Check out the media items below on the confirmation of the Panama disease outbreak:

The article in National Geographic

The interview with Gert Kema in The Packer video on the outbreak in Latin America

in The Packer video on the outbreak in Latin America

The article in Science magazine

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Fusarium wilt TR4 may have reached Latin America

Fusarium wilt TR4 may have reached Latin America

In Colombia four plantations in northern Colombia have been quarantined because of suspected infection with Fusarium wilt tropical race 4 (TR4). This finding has yet to be confirmed. As can been seen in Asia, the extreme damaging banana disease can wipe out entire plantations. “So, we should take this extremely seriously,” says Gert Kema, a plant pathologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

Source: Science mag

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Dutch Greenhouse bananas grown above ground

Dutch Greenhouse bananas grown above ground

The first bananas were harvested in a Wageningen Greenhouse, according to the Wageningen World Magazine. Researchers have been growing them above ground in order to trying to outsmart the Panama disease caused by Fusarium Wilt, which is threatening the banana population around the world.

From all sides researchers are looking for approaches, e.g., genetics and growing conditions, to making global cultivation more sustainable.

Check out this article in Wageningen World.

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