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Fusarium tropical race 4 a disease threating a global smallholder and industrial crop

Miguel A Dita Rodriguez: Embrapa

<div>Bananas mean food security and livelihoods for over 400 million people worldwide. Despite of the importance of bananas as a global commodity, about 85% are consumed in their country of origin. Pest and diseases are major challenges for banana diversity and productivity, especially Fusarium wilt (FW), caused by <em>Fusarium oxysporum</em> f. sp. <em>cubense </em>(Foc). In the 1950s, Foc race 1 disrupted the banana industry forcing the replacement of the susceptible cultivar Gros Michel with the resistant Cavendish. Cavendish plantations, currently about xx% of total global banana production, remained unaffected until, a new strain, tropical race 4 (TR4), was identified in the 1980s in Asia. Since that time, TR4 has destroyed over 100.000 ha of Cavendish in Asia and continues to spread to new countries in Asia and into the Middle East and Africa. In spite of being decreed a quarantine disease throughout Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), TR4 risk analyses suggests the disease will eventually reach major banana plantations. Banana producing countries in LAC are especially concerned as no containment measures are reported in place in any TR4-affected country, excepting Australia. TR4 not only affects Cavendish, but many local banana cultivars important for sale and food security. Testing the susceptibility of banana diversity to TR4 is still ongoing, but preliminary results suggest that many local cultivars are threatened. Therefore, exclusion and containment are top priorities anywhere where TR4 is absent. Traveler alerts and contingency plans, implemented in only a few countries in LAC, are extremely necessary. In this work we present comprehensive data about the global threat posed by TR4 giving directions towards exclusion, preparedness and research priorities.</div>