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CAB Review

Fusarium wilt: a threat to banana cultivation and its management.


Banana is affected by a wide number of diseases, of which, Fusarium wilt caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense (Foc) race 1 has played a major role in devastating Gros Michel banana plantations. Since 1960s, the pathogen Foc race 4 has threatened the survival and existence of the Cavendish group of bananas, which has necessitated detailed study on Fusarium wilt, the causal organism Foc, its biology, dispersal, pathogenicity, diversity and detection at a molecular level (especially in soils) and its management. The recently developed technique of transferring the gene encoding green fluorescent protein into Foc has assisted in visualizing and analysing the colonization and infection of banana plants by the pathogen. Studies on the pathogenicity secreted in xylem genes have helped in rapid detection of the pathogen in planta and techniques such as real-time fluorescence loop-mediated isothermal amplification assay have facilitated rapid and direct quantitative detection of Foc in soil. Several management practices, especially resistant varieties/transgenics and biological control methods are available for the effective management of this deadly disease. Strict quarantine procedures and reduction of Foc inoculum are the methods undertaken to limit the spread of the disease to other un-infected regions. This review summarizes the recent developments of Fusarium wilt in banana and its management.