An Integrative Approach to Enhance Disease Resistance Against Fusarium Wilt (Foc TR4) in Banana – Phase II

Open for proposals

Project Type

Coordinated Research Project

Project Code




Approved Date

7 September 2022


Active - Ongoing

Start Date

2 March 2023

Expected End Date

30 June 2028

Participating Countries

South Africa


The previous CRP related to mutation breeding in banana, CRP 22005, focused on developing efficient screening techniques to identify mutants with disease resistance. Screening protocols developed from this CRP have been recently published and will contribute to the selection of Foc TR4 resistant banana varieties by Member States.   In the current CRP proposal, we aim to develop state-of-the-art tools for : i) microbial mutation induction to enhance the biocontrol and plant growth promotion activities of beneficial microbes associated to banana, ii) early and reliable pathogen detection methods (molecular and remote sensing), (iii) functional genomic technologies for the identification of candidate genes and gene editing, in addition to (iv) plant mutation induction as part of an integrative strategy for understanding the genetic mechanisms involved in disease resistance, accelerated breeding towards resistance and improved management of the Fusarium wilt (Foc TR4) disease.   The banana (Musa spp.) crop plays a very important role in food security and income for 400 million people located in more than 135 banana producing countries in the world. This crop is among the 10 most important sources of carbohydrates in the tropical and sub-tropical regions with more than 86% of its global production consumed locally and 14% traded internationally. Genetic improvement of this important crop will contribute to meet the SDGs related to the reduction of poverty and hunger.   Fusarium wilt caused by the fungi Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense tropical race 4 (Foc TR4) is considered the major disease of banana. Most banana and plantain cultivars are susceptible to this disease. Annual losses due to this disease account for millions of US dollars and are predicted to reach about US$10 billion globally by year 2040. Foc TR4 is spreading around the world menacing the banana production that is mostly based on the Cavendish cultivar, susceptible to this disease. Therefore, breeding efforts for Foc TR4 resistance must maintain production traits and be accompanied by integrated strategies that will contain/reduce pathogen dispersal. To date, applicable control methods of Foc TR4 on a large scale and showing promising results are biological control methods using beneficial microbes for disease suppression in infected soils and the use of cultivars with resistance to Foc TR4.   The expected participation in this CRP includes National Agricultural Research System of countries where the crops are grown extensively, Advanced Research Institutes, Regional, and International Networks, and the CGIAR centers with the respective mandates that over a period of five years, shall generate resistant mutant banana clones, mutant microbes with enhanced suppression of the disease; as well as develop, validate, and publish banana functional genomics and beneficial microbes’ mutation induction protocols.


To improve disease resistance in banana and develop microbes with enhanced beneficial activities through induced mutagenesis for the management of Fusarium wilt (Foc TR4) disease.

Specific objectives

To generate induced genetic diversity in bananas using physical mutagenesis for developing resistance to Fusarium wilt (Foc TR4) disease.

To generate functional genomics tools and methodologies for understanding the mechanisms of disease resistance using available resistant germplasm that will contribute to markers development and gene editing.

To develop rapid and reliable diagnostic protocols for field detection of Foc TR4.

To develop protocols for physical mutagenesis of microbes for enhanced biocontrol and plant growth promotion activities, and evaluation against Fusarium wilt (Foc TR4) disease.

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