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Characterization of Fusarium wilt of bananas aiming to design disease management strategies

Abstract

Fusarium wilt (FW), caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense (Foc), is considered the most destructive disease of banana. In Brazil, the disease causes major impact either causing yoeld losses or precluding land use for banana production. The state of São Paulo, Brazil's biggest producer, is no an exception. The disease forced growers to replace the Prata and Silk-type cultivars (susceptible) by Cavendish clones (Nanica and Nanicão), which are resistant to the races present in Brazil. However, a new variant of the pathogen, known as tropical race 4 (TR4) that seriously affects the Cavendish clones has spread rapidly, causing huge losses to the global banana industry. This strain, not yet reported in Brazil, could cause unpredictable socio-economic impacts, because it severely affects most of banana cultivars in the country. Moreover, even in the absence of Foc TR4, FW continues to cause considerable losses in Prata and Silk varieties and has also affected Cavendish clones in subtropical conditions in Brazil. Management options to minimize losses caused by the disease would support not only an increasing of competitiveness of small producers of 'Prata and 'Silk, but also to pave the way on preparing the banana sector for an eventual TR4 arrival. This project aims to: a) perform a diagnostic of the current situation of FW in the main productions areas of the state of São Paulo; b) characterize the structure of the pathogen populations; and c) build up a database with information on biotic and abiotic factors putatively associated to FW epidemics. It is expected that the set of knowledge generated on this project will support further research and develop more efficient management strategies of FW of banana. (AU)

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