Fusarium wilt of banana, caused by the fungal pathogen Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense (Foc), has widely been considered as one of the most devastating diseases in agricultural history, until resistant Cavendish banana cultivars replaced susceptible ones in Central America. New outbreaks of the disease on hitherto resistant cultivars in Asia and more recently in Africa and Australia, caused by the Tropical race 4 (TR4) strain of the pathogen, have raised concerns that the disease is, once again, threatening banana production in the world.No chemical or cultural control measures exist for Foc.
Once the pathogen is introduced into a production field, it can stay in the soil for many decades, thus spelling the end of production of susceptible cultivars in that field. The use of resistant cultivars is the only viable option. Of particular concern is the threat to food security in Africa, where the East African Highland bananas (EAHB) and plantains form the staple diet and only source of income to millions of Africans.