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Source: FreshPlaza [summ. Mod.DHA, edited]

In Pabna district, an outbreak of Panama disease has severely affected banana plantations, covering several hundred hectares. The infection has led to significant crop losses, with symptoms including browning and shriveling of leaves, followed by the rotting of stems.

Despite efforts by farmers to manage the disease by removing affected plants, assistance from agricultural officials has been deemed insufficient. The disease, identified as Fusarium wilt, poses a significant threat to the local banana industry, lacking both a cure and resistant varieties. Agricultural authorities recommend burning diseased trees. The impact on the local rural economy is notable.
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[Panama disease of banana (PD, also called fungal or fusarium wilt) is caused by the soil-borne fungus _Fusarium oxysporum_ (previously f. sp. _cubense_). Symptoms include yellowing, wilting and streaking of pseudostems; affected plants die rapidly. The pathogen is spread by infected planting material, mechanical means (including human and insect activities), soil and water.

Disease management for PD is difficult and mostly relies on phytosanitation for pathogen exclusion. The fungus can survive in the soil for decades; consequently, crop rotation with non-hosts is not likely to control the disease effectively. No effective chemical or cultural control measures are available. Integrated approaches have been developed (ProMED post 20090419.1483), which may include cultural practices, certified clean planting material and biocontrol agents such as _Trichoderma_ species (for example, ProMED post 20160317.4102576 and see link below). Breeding programmes and molecular techniques are being used to develop crop cultivars with increased resistance or tolerance to the different fungal strains. Constant vigilance is required in areas where the fungus is present to prevent flare-ups and recognise emerging new strains.

Several races of the pathogen exist, varying in host range. Cavendish banana varieties (cultivars within the _Musa_ AAA group, see links below) replaced the original eating varieties (such as Gros Michel) because they are resistant to the original fungal strain. They include most of the current commercial eating bananas. Cavendish-affecting strains, such as temperate (subtropical) and tropical races 4 (TR4), as well as a new strain of race 1 (ProMED posts 20210105.8075029, 20101223.4510), have emerged since from Asia and Oceania.

TR4, in particular, is of great concern worldwide; development of TR4-resistant cultivars has become a top priority for many national banana industries (see previous ProMED posts in the archives). TR4 has now been reported in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the Americas. While it is present in neighbouring India, it is not stated above which strain has been detected in the current outbreak in central Bangladesh.

PD symptoms on banana:, and
PD-affected plantations:, and
_F. o._ f. sp. _cubense_ culture:

Information on Panama disease:,, and
Information on race TR4:,, and
FAO emergency project for TR4: and
_F. oxysporum_ taxonomy and synonyms: and
Information on _Trichoderma_ species and use as biocontrol agents:
Cultivars and hybrids of banana and plantain: and
- Mod.DHA]


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