Tropical Race 4 (TR4) of Fusarium wilt (Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense)
Expanded Threat to Global Banana Production
Bananas (Musa spp.), including dessert banana, plantain, and cooking banana, are the eighth most important food crop in the world, and the fourth most important in the least developed countries (FAOSTAT, 2013). However the crop is vulnerable to a number of diseases, including the Black Sigatoka disease, Xanthomonas wilt (BXW), Bunchy Top Disease,(BBTD) and Fusarium wilt also known as Panama disease. Among these, Fusarium wilt has been the most difficult to control by chemical or agronomic means due to its soil-borne nature.
Fusarium wilt was effectively controlled for decades by the Cavendish varieties which are resistant to the race 1 and 2 of the fungus. However the occurrence of TR4 race has significantly changed this situation as Cavendish and many other varieties are highly susceptible to this race. TR4 has been severely affecting banana plantations in Southeast Asia and it was recently reported from Mozambique and Jordan. Hence TR4 is a growing concern for the banana industry as it is dominated by the Cavendish varieties and there is a fear that it may further spread to Latin America.
Therefore a concerted effort is required from the stakeholders including the countries, industry, research institutions and international organizations to prevent the spread of this disease. Currently the World Banana Forum (WBF), FAO, CGIAR centers and the international scientific community are increasing awareness of the countries and stakeholders about the risks of this disease and how to implement necessary measures to prevent its spread.
See also the World Banana Forum web site: http://www.fao.org/economic/worldbananaforum/wbf-aboutus/en/