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).
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.
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.
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 &
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.
the media items below on the confirmation of the Panama disease outbreak:
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.
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.