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.
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.
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
On October 17th 2018 Nadia Ordóñez defended her PhD entitled ‘A global genetic diversity analysis of Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense (Foc)’ at Wageningen University. In her research the genetic and geographically diversity of Tropical race 4 (TR4) strain of Foc was mapped out using DNA sequencing methods.
Bananas are an essential staple food and a significant income for agricultural-based economies in developing countries. Fusarium wilt of bananas, popularly known as Panama disease, is one of the most threatening fungal diseases of banana production. Foc is the causal fungal agent of this disease. The TR4 strain of this fungus affects many local banana varieties as well as the Cavendish cultivar, which accounts for 85% of world trade in bananas. Since all Cavendish bananas are clones of each other and there is little variation, they are highly susceptible to TR4, making the sector extremely vulnerable.
In the research of Nadia a molecular detection tool to monitor the spread of TR4 was developed. This assay enables rapid, routine and unambiguous detection of TR4 in the field and is therefore of immense value for charting the progression of its spread. That this is urgently needed, the results provide an image that all TR4 isolates, regardless of the year of isolation and country of origin, were highly infectious on both ‘Gros Michel’ and ‘Grand Naine’ banana varieties , underpinning the risk for banana plantations that only rely on these cultivars.