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

Back to News page

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

Back to News page

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.

Back to News page

Overcoming the developing pandemic of Panama disease in banana

Overcoming the developing pandemic of Panama disease in banana

New methods to efficiently monitor Panama disease, also known as Fusarium wilt, caused by Fusarium species in bananaswere developed during the PhD research of Fernando Garcia-Bastidas at Wageningen University and Research. These new methods and trials enabled a close monitoring of the international and intercontinental dissemination of the so-called Tropical Race 4 (TR4) strain of Fusarium odoratissimum, a new species originating from Indonesia that devastates banana plantations of Cavendish as well as many other local varieties around the world. 

Fernando Garcia-Bastidas defended his dissertation entitled ‘Panama disease in banana: Spread, screens and genes’ on March 19, 2019 at Wageningen University. The thesis describes the developing pandemic of a Fusarium species, which causes Panama disease in banana. He focused his research on the genetic diversity for resistance towards a panel of Fusarium strains representing global pathogenic diversity and aspects of the molecular interaction between the fungus and the host.

The thesis further explores the resistance to TR4 in a wide panel of banana accessions and the possible use of a resistance gene from a wild banana ancestor by genetically transforming Cavendish bananas, thereby providing a potential solution for sustainable disease management. Lasting disease management, however, relies on genetic diversity and the research described in this thesis is the basis for developing such new varieties.

For more information, see this page.

Back to News page

Gene identified for full virulence of the Fusarium wilt towards Cavendish banana

In an article in the PLOS One journal researchers identified a gene and protein that is required for full virulence of the fungus that causes Furasium wilt in Cavendish banana. A mutant of the Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense (Focub) SIX1a gene was tested in the banana plant. This mutant was found to be severely compromised in its virulence. When the gene was reintroduced virulence was restored to wild type levels.

More about the research in the PLOS One article ‘A SIX1 homolog in Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense tropical race 4 contributes to virulence towards Cavendish banana.’

 

Back to News page

New publication on improving banana cultivation

Recent research on improving banana cultivation is bundled in the new publication ‘Achieving sustainable cultivation of bananas Volume 1’. Both the banana research community as well as banana producers will find information from all over the world about the current challenges in banana production, improving cultivation practice across the value chain, from propagation to harvesting, packaging and ripening, and ways of measuring and improving the environmental impact of banana cultivation.

Throughout the book attention is paid to pests and diseases affecting bananas, including Fusarium wilt. Highlights of the book include: the latest research on banana domestication and genetic diversity; new research on the limitations of current good agricultural practices and how areas such as soil health can be improved; and summaries of best practice in neglected but critical areas such as harvesting and ripening operations.

More information and the opportunity to order the book at the publishers website.

https://shop.bdspublishing.com/checkout/Store/bds/Detail/WorkGroup/3-190-55859

 

Back to News page