Fusarium Wilt of Bananas and Plantains – Tropical Race 4
Fusarium wilt of banana, also known as Panama disease is a destructive fungal disease caused by the soil-borne fungus – Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense (Foc). There are four races of the fungus:
Race 1 infects Gros Michel and many other banana varieties, but not Cavendish
Race 2 generally infects cooking bananas such as Bluggoe
Race 3 infects only Heliconia species and not bananas
Race 4 not only infects most varieties affected by race 1 and race 2 but also Cavendish on which > 90% of the world banana trade is based.
Symptoms and Infestation
The first external symptom of Panama disease is the irregular yellowing of the margins of older leaves, which later turn brown and dry out. These leaves eventually collapse along the leaf stalk or at the junction of the stalk and stem, resulting in a skirt of dead leaves forming around the lower part of the plant. Heart leaves may remain unusually upright giving the plant a spiky appearance. Following this, plants show a generally wilted appearance.
Internal symptoms of Panama include brownish discolouration of the inner tissue in the corm and pseudostem. The easiest way to observe these symptoms is to cut through the pseudostem near ground level. The discolouration is usually seen as reddish-brown or black lines running up and down the pseudostem, or rings running around the cross section of tissue. Affected plants rarely produce marketable bunches.
The map below shows the global distribution of Fusarium wilt (Not specifically Tropical race 4)
The most important measures to adopt at present are to:
Plant or only import certied “clean” or disease free planting material
Closely monitoring for the symptoms of wilt diseases in the cultivated bananas
Isolation and eradication of infected plants if suspected symptoms of wilt disease are observed.
But please remember that:
Fusarium Wilt Tropical Race 4 is currently not present in the Caribbean and everything possible must be done to keep this disease out of the Region.
What Can We Do?
Do NOT bring into your country any soil or agricultural propagative / planting material without the required Plant Quarantine Import Permits/Approval
When you travel declare all agricultural items.
Report any suspected signs and symptoms consistent with Fusaruim Wilt to your Ministry or Department of Agriculture
Follow all prevention and control recommendations from your Ministry or Department of Agriculture