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.
Australian’s Queensland government is attempting to restrict
the spread of the destructive Panama disease TR4 in Australia. To tackle the
spread of the disease, the government injected the Australian Banana Growers’
Council with AUD$12.1 million in funding, calling upon the banana industry to
join in cost-sharing.
In Australia, the disease was first discovered in 2015, and has thusfar been contained to three farms in total.
The editorial team is headed by Prof. Gert Kema and includes Prof. André Drenth, University of Queensland, Dr. Miguel Dita, Embrapa, Brazil, and the Wageningen University and Research colleagues Drs. Jetse Stoorvogel, Sietze Vellema and Kees Jansen, who are all involved in the INREF program.
On January 24, National Geographic visited WUR and filmed during a course that Prof. Kema is teaching on Frontiers in Medical and Veterinary Biology. They were particularly interested in banana research and visited the Unifarm Greenhouse facility to film ongoing trials and experiments of students. The footage will be part of flagship National Geographic Explorer program and results from the NG Magazine article on Future Farming in The Netherlands. The NG Explorer program will be broadcasted in the autumn of 2018 and reaches approximately 400 million people in 171 countries in 45languages.
The big news of the first transgenic Cavendish banana resistant to TR4 has reached the press. In the Netherlands one of the main national news channels (NOS) made an item for their website. Fernando Garcia Bastidas, one of the banana researchers at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands, explains about the breakthrough in this excellent video made by NOS. Most of the item is in the English language, so we think it is well worth watching. https://nos.nl/op3/artikel/2204634-waarom-je-straks-misschien-geen-banaan-meer-kan-eten.html
Some of the other digital media covering the news: