Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

TR4 and COVID-19 are two sides of the same coin.

Abstract

This article describes the parallelism between the current COVID-19 pandemic on humans to the Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense, also known as Tropical race 4 (TR4) fungus that causes Fusarium wilt and Panama disease on bananas and fall armyworm (FAW). Well-equipped interconnectedness of countries and continents facilitates not only the migration of humans but also the movement of microbes, plants and animals. COVID-19 is a recent example of how rapidly an alien species can invade across national boundaries and continents, and kill several million people and have a negative impact on the global economy. For example, since the last 75 years, India practically does not have any benchmark studies on the im pacts of invasive alien species on its important habitats and how they affect human health, biodiversity and food security of the nation. It is worth mentioning here that the researchers, bureaucrats, stakeholders and policymakers, as well as the so called activists on social media have not responded to the warning message issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization and Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI)on FAW, one of the worst invasive species on maize in recent times. In 2016, FAO and CABI had sent a strong warning message about the chance for invasion of the FAW Spodoptera frugiperda in the Asian region. Thus, one can easily see the nonchalant attitude on the containment of FAW and COVID-19. Besides, once the fungus invades the field/habitat, it can survive in the soil for more than 40 years even in the absence of the host plant. On the other hand, TR4 and FAW are going to endanger banana and maize plantations of several countries and will affect the economy and nutritional security. It is high time that we revamp our old notions and ideology on the issues of climate change and invasive species. In fact, the consequences of climate change and bio-invasion are several folds higher than those of COVID-19.