At the end of 2019, a new species portal was added to CABI’s Invasive Species Compendium (ISC) to bring together information and data related to Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense tropical race 4, more commonly known as TR4. This portal, which is Open Access and available to all, brings together data on the current distribution, the latest research on the problem, and provides links to practical identification and management information.
TR4, is a strain of Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense (Foc) fungus. Foc has been known to cause Panama disease in bananas since the early 20th century, and has caused major yield loss in bananas, an important staple food in many countries. The spread of TR4 is of major concern as it affects the Cavendish variety of banana, a variety which accounts for 47% of global production, and is the main variety grown for export.
TR4 has devastated the global banana industry for over 30 years, notably in South-East Asia, with the fungal disease spreading across India, Australia and more recently, Colombia. In August 2019, TR4 was confirmed to have spread across South America with Colombia, one of the world’s leading exporters of Cavendish bananas declaring a national emergency at risk of major crop losses at a national level. The fear is that the TR4 strain will spread across the world’s banana producing countries, resulting in the destruction of the current leading variety similar to what occurred with Gros Michel bananas and TR1 in the 1950s.
The TR4 Foc strain is commonly found in soil and infects bananas via the root systems, damaging the roots and therefore inhibiting water and nutrient uptake, with severe infections causing death. There is currently no direct treatment for TR4 infections, however phytosanitary practices such as disinfecting clothing, transportation and storage area can help to prevent infections from occurring and/or spreading to other areas.
For more information, the TR4 ISC portal contains distribution data and a multitude of open access IPM guides and research articles which will be updated with new content from CABI and external collaborators. Some useful tools found within the portal and the ISC include the Horizon Scanning tool, a decision support tool for pest outbreak predictions, and links to relevant CABI mobile applications such as the Plantwise Factsheet App and the Invasive Species ID Guide.
Click here to explore the new TR4 portal and its resources.
Example files as part of the TR4 information on the ISC include:
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