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

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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

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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.

https://www.freshfruitportal.com/news/2019/04/02/230955/

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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.
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:

logo the guardian, about transgenic cavendish
The Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/16/bananapocalypse-genetic-modification-may-save-12bn-industry

 

 

logo Science Magazine, about transgenic cavendish, Fusariumwilt.org

 

 

 

Science Magazine
http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/11/gm-banana-shows-promise-against-deadly-fungus-strain

 

 

logo Kemivärlden Biotech, about transgenic cavendish, Fusariumwilt.org
Kemivärlden Biotech in Sweden
https://www.kemivarldenbiotech.se/article/view/568166/resistent_banan_utvecklad_i_australien


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