Panama disease

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Banana plant with withered leaves and shoots
Banana plant wilting as a result of Panama disease

The Panama disease is one of the Fusarium counting disease of banana ( Musa spp.). It is caused by the tubular fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense and occurs in the natural distribution area of ​​bananas and their growing areas. It manifests itself in a wilting of diseased plants, which subsequently no longer produce fruit and die in the end stage of the disease.

The disease was originally thought to be native to Southeast Asia northwest of the Wallace Line . It got its name in 1890 when it appeared on plantations in Panama and Costa Rica across the board and led to enormous crop failures. In the course of the next decades it spread through the cuttings and seedling trade throughout Latin America and Africa . At the beginning of the 1960s, the cultivar ' Gros Michel ', which is widely used for export, could no longer be grown economically . The big banana producers responded by switching to the cultivars of the ' Cavendish ' group, which were resistant to Panama disease.

In the 1990s, a new breed of the pathogen appeared in Taiwan , which also affected 'Cavendish'. It was later found in other countries in East and Southeast Asia, from where it spread to Mozambique and the Middle East . In the event of a renewed infestation of the Latin American plantations, high losses are feared for the global banana trade, which is based almost exclusively on the cultivars of the 'Cavendish' group.

F. oxysporum f. sp. cubense does not react to fungicides . Unlike in the 1960s, there is also no alternative cultivar available, and the breeding of new banana cultivars has so far been unsuccessful; the Cavendish cannot be bred in the conventional way because it is seedless ( parthenocarpy ) and reproduces by offshoots . As a result, there is currently no effective means of combating the disease that can be applied across the board.

Attempts are being made to create fungus-resistant varieties through genome editing . Transgenic plants with resistance to Panama disease have not yet been tested in the field and also face the problem of lack of acceptance of genetically modified foods on consumers .

In August 2019, the authorities in Colombia reported the occurrence of Tropical Race 4 . In Costa Rica , a " phytosanitary emergency " was declared at the beginning of July 2020 because of the spread of the disease .

Web links


Individual evidence

  1. Sascha Karberg: How researchers want to save the banana. In: Der Tagesspiegel. August 19, 2019, accessed September 23, 2019 .
  2. Banana disease in Colombia - export types affected. In: August 13, 2019, accessed October 21, 2019 .