Panama disease: an old nemesis rears its ugly head: Part 2: the 'Cavendish' era and beyond

  • Authors : Ploetz, R.C.

  • Document type : Journal article

  • Year of publication : 2005

  • Journal title : Plant Health Progress

  • Pages : 13

  • Peer-reviewed : Yes

  • ISSN : 1535-1025

  • Language(s) : English

  • Abstract : The second part of this review begins with a brief introduction to banana taxonomy and diversity. Banana is a highly variable crop, and Panama disease impacts many of the different types that are grown. The current impact of Panama disease is summarized with special reference to tropical race 4 (TR4). TR4 affects cultivars that produce more than 80 percent of the world's bananas, including the important Cavendish and plantain subgroups. If TR4 were to spread outside its current, limited range, its potential impact would be greater than that caused by race 1 during the 'Gros Michel' era. Also discussed is phylogenetic research on the causal fungus, Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. Cubense (FOC). Recent work on formae speciales (ff. spp.) of F. oxysporum has provided useful insight into the origins and relatedness of these important plant pathogens. Since most of the ff. spp. affect closely related taxa it had been assumed that members of each were also closely related (13). Surprisingly, recent work indicates that this is not always the case. Many ff. spp. have been shown to have evolutionarily diverse backgrounds. These results have significant implications for the development of resistant host genotypes and, for FOC, make the challenging job of improving banana more difficult. This article ends with information on banana improvement. Traditional breeding programs face several obstacles. These difficulties, the limited success with some breeding targets (especially the export dessert bananas), and the serious threat that diseases pose to current production have led the popular press to write that banana will become extinct in the near future. Although these articles exaggerate the magnitude and ultimate impact of these problems, they have drawn the general public's attention to the importance of these threats and to the biotechnological improvements that are envisioned for the crop.


  • Open access : Yes

  • Document on publisher's site : open View article on publisher's site

  • Musalit document ID : IN070085

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