Check out Prof Gert Kema’s presentation during his webinar on the understanding of the phylogeography of TR4 on 30th of April 2020. He discussed the broad genetic potential of the crop for breeding as well as options for disease management to avoid a repetition of history.
Recently, the find of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense tropicalrace 4 in Cavendish bananas was reported for the first time. The fungus causes Fusarium wilt, also known as Panama disease. Along Turkeys Mediterranean coast the Cavendish banana is a valuable agricultural crop. In 2018 banana plants in greenhouses showing severe wilt symptoms and collapse were investigated. The fungi isolated from the banana plants were identified with molecular techniques and showed to be TR4. This find marks a further expand of TR4’s dissemination into the Middle-East.
Production of the Cavendish banana along the Mediterranean Coast of Turkey is around 369,000 tons, which meets 67.7% of the domestic demand. In banana greenhouses in cities of Alanya, Anamur and Gazipasa, plants showing severe wilt symptoms and collapse were detected in March 2018. Yellowing of the oldest leaves that split at their base, brownish streaks of the vascular tissue of pseudostems, and root necrosis were observed on Cavendish ‘Grand Naine’.
Read the first report of TR4 in Turkey in the Plant disease magazine here.
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
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.
Or check out the publication: https://apsjournals.apsnet.org/doi/10.1094/PDIS-09-19-1922-PDN
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.
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.
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.
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