Since October 2014 a new PhD student from Indonesia, Fajarudin Ahmad, started at Wageningen University & Research centre to study the genes responsible for resistance to Panama disease.
The program deals with segregating banana populations and state of the art cytogenetics techniques. Last October, Fajarudin started his research with crossing two wild diploid banana accessions with different levels of resistant to the Tropical Race 4 strain of Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense (TR4), the causal agent of Panama disease in Cavendish bananas and a range of additional banana germplasm. He created progenies by pollinating the banana flowers by hand and by selfing. In the next months he will use these populations for studying segregation and eventually for genetic mapping of TR4 resistance.
Fajarudin is now propagating the progenies by tissue culture in order to have sufficient plants for statistically sound phenotyping. During this process he devotes his time to preliminary microscopical meiosis observations of pollen mother cells in the parents using DAPI staining enabling him to observe chromosome pairing disturbances.
In the coming years Fajarudin will focus on studying the inheritance of TR4 resistance in banana. Fajarudin: «After four years I hope to have found the genes, which are responsible to TR4 resistance in Indonesian wild germplasm that will support breeding initiatives aiming at delivering resistant bananas to the market».
Click here to send an email to Gert Kema for more information about Fajarudin’s project.