Australia stimulates tackling Panama disease

Australia stimulates tackling Panama disease

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.

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Frontiers in Plant Science Research Topic on Panama disease

The visibility of the Wageningen Panama disease research, has resulted in “Panama Disease of Banana, a Recurring Threat to Global Banana Production” a Research Topic of Frontiers in Plant Science, one of the leading plant pathology journals.

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.

The Research Topic will comprise a series of papers on the latest progress in Panama disease research which eventually will be available as an eBook. The inaugural article in the Research Topic is titled “New Geographical Insights of the Latest Expansion of Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense Tropical Race 4 Into the Greater Mekong Subregion”, Front. Plant Sci., 09 April 2018 (Subscription or payment may be required), and reveals links between the occurrence of TR4 in China and surrounding countries as well as between Pakistan and the Philippines and Jordan and Lebanon. Hence, genomics research enables forensic analyses on the origin of TR4 incursions.

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National Geographic visits Wageningen University and Research

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 45 languages.

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Transgenic Cavendish in the news


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.

Some of the other digital media covering the news:

logo the guardian, about transgenic cavendish
The Guardian



logo Science Magazine, about transgenic cavendish,




Science Magazine



logo Kemivärlden Biotech, about transgenic cavendish,
Kemivärlden Biotech in Sweden

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New website

We are proud to present our new website: . will maintain accessible, but there is a serious plea to dissociate the name Panama from the disease in banana. The main reason, though was to keep up with the current requirements to ensure a future proof site that can also be viewed on mobile devices. The positive feed-back on the previous site was overwhelming and hence, we hope you enjoy visiting the new website even more.
The new website is fully responsive, so it will look great on your dekstop, laptop, tablet and smartphone. The new site was designed and built by Neo & Co.

Mail us at for any suggestions or questions about Fusarium wilt.

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Article on The conversation covered by CNN

Ioannis Stergiopoulos, Assistant Professor of Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis; André Drenth, Professor of Agriculture and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland and Gert Kema, Special Professor of Phytopathology, Wageningen University wrote an article for ‘The conversation’, the communication platform with ‘Academic rigour & journalistic flair’. With the article, Ioannis, André and Gert try to answer the question whether science can help the endangered Cavendish banana to survive. The piece attracted very much interest of news media, it even reached the homepage of CNN.

Check the CNN page here:

You can read the entire article here on The Conversation:

The Conversation is an independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community and delivered direct to the public. Their team of professional editors work with university and research institute experts to unlock their knowledge for use by the wider public.

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