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Major diseases of banana and plantain: an update of their spread, impact and response strategies








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    Preventing the spread and introduction of banana fusarium wilt disease Tropical race 4 (TR4)
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    Banana is an important crop for food security and ensuring the livelihoods of approximately 400 million people who depend on the crop either as a staple food or source of income, particularly in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Plant pests and diseases can seriously affect agricultural production and livelihood of rural people. Fusarium wilt of banana is one of the key examples of crop devastation by a plant disease. This disease brought the banana export industry almost to a halt in the 20th century when the popular banana variety Gros Michel was devastated in Central America. The sector was saved by the introduction of the Cavendish variety, which is resistant to race 1 of the fungus. However, Cavendish bananas are now succumbing to a new, highly aggressive strain of the Fusarium wilt fungus, Tropical race 4 (TR4). Fusarium wilt TR4 threatens almost all banana producers, posing the greatest risks to countries producing Cavendish bananas in monoculture plantations in Asia, Australia, Africa, the Near East, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Cavendish bananas, which constitute approximately half of the bananas grown globally are highly susceptible to TR4, but other dessert banana varieties grown in these regions are also susceptible. Once established in a banana plantation, the fungus can survive in the soil for decades with its chlamydospores, even without banana plants. Scientific reports indicate the presence of TR4 in numerous countries in Asia (China – mainland and Taiwan Province), India, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Malaysia, Myanmar,
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