Banana diseases

BananaBananas belong to the most popular fruits group. Not only that they are tasty when eaten on their own but are also used for preparation of different cakes. Artificial babana flavour is often used in food production. The only downside to this story is banana diseases.


Banana is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa and for the fruit they produce. It is one of the oldest cultivated plants. They are native to tropical South and Southeast Asia, and are likely to have been first domesticated in Papua New Guinea. Today, they are cultivated throughout the tropics. They are grown in at least 107 countries, primarily for their fruit, and to a lesser extent to make fiber, banana wine and as ornamental plants. Its fruits, rich in starch, grow in clusters hanging from the top of the plant. They come in a variety of sizes and colors when ripe, including yellow, purple, and red. [1]

Banana breeders must indeed be thankful that two botanical treatises on the banana have been published within two years, Bananas by N. W. Simmonds [cf. XXX, 2155] and the book under review, both by the same publishers. Whereas the former deals extensively with taxonomy the latter refers almost exclusively to descriptions of the symptoms, aetiology and control of all known banana diseases. Panama disease is nowadays only of academic interest in countries such as Australia, Brazil and the West Indies where the Cavendish banana varieties are grown almost to the exclusion of the susceptible Gros Michel variety. Nevertheless resistance to this Fusarium root disease remains the primary factor for consideration in banana breeding work. Leaf spot (Sigatoka disease), bunchy top, Moko disease and various fruit diseases are well described and illustrated. The ever increasing cost of controlling these diseases warrants their inclusion in the planning of breeding work because, unlike Panama disease, they are capable of seriously affecting all the commercial varieties at present being grown throughout the world. [2]

Diseases are among the most significant constraints to banana production in the subtropics. Fusarium wilt, caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense, is the most widespread and important problem. Important dessert and cooking bananas are affected throughout the subtropics. Effective fungicides do not exist for this fatal disease, but genetic resistance is available in many useful lines, some of which have been developed and deployed by the breeding programs. Another fatal disease, Moko (Pseudomonas solanacearum), is less important, and can be controlled with cultural practices.Other important diseases of the plant are usually not fatal, but can limit production severely. Of these banana bunchy top, caused by the banana bunchy top virus, is the most destructive. Fortunately, it has a somewhat restricted geographic distribution, and can be controlled by frequent rouging of affected plants. The spiral nematode, Helicotylenchus multicynctus, a minor pest in the tropics, is the most serious of the nematodes in the subtropics. Although regulatory practices have made nematicides unavailable in many countries, hot water treatment of rhizomes is effective.The most important leaf diseases are yellow Sigatoka (Mycosphaerella musicola) and freckle (Guignardia musae). These and other foliar diseases can be serious during periods of high rainfall, but can be controlled with protectant and systemic fungicides and plantation sanitation.Several different diseases reduce the quality and post-harvest life of fruit. The most important of these include anthracnose (Colletotrichum musae), cigar-end rot (Trachysphaeria fructigena and Verticillium theobromae), crown rot (Ceratocystis paradoxa, C. musae, Fusarium pallidoroseum, Lasiodiplodia theobromae and V. theobromae), finger rot (L. theobromae), Johnson spot (Magnaporthe grisea) and squirter disease (Nigrospora sphaerica). As for the leaf diseases, plantation sanitation and fungicide treatments are indicated. [3]

Black leaf streak, caused by Mycosphaerella fijiensis a virulent pathogen of bananas and plantains, is recorded from Zanzibar. This is the first record of this important pathogen from East Africa. Viral leaf streak of bananas is also identified from Zanzibar. The presence of panama disease and high infestations of root nematode are also noted. [4]

“Any of several tropical and subtropical treelike herbs of the genus musa having a terminal crown of large entire leaves and usually bearing hanging clusters of elongated fruits.”

The edible bananas originated in Asia. Fusarium wilt, caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense, is a lethal disease of this important food crop. Also known as Panama disease, it impacts on a wide range of cultivars and, like its host, is now found throughout the tropical regions of the world. Although most authorities believe that the pathogen co-evolved with banana, a non-Asian origin is also possible. Before global collections of F. oxysporum f sp. cubense became available, there was scant evidence to support either of these hypotheses. New information on genetic diversity in the fungus, and its ancestry, confirms that it most likely originated in south and southeast Asia. The available data indicate that the eastern limit of its native range was probably defined by the 1910 version of Wallace’s line; its distribution coincided with his Indo-Malayan region. We believe that this is the first time that Wallace’s line has been shown to delimit the distribution of a microorganism, F. oxysporum f sp. cubense. [5]

The pattern of fungal colonization of collapsed leaves is described. Deightoniella torulosa, Gloeosporium musarum, Verticillium theobromae, Nigrospora spp. and Pyricularia musae are the most frequent primary colonists. As the leaf dries out, the primary flora is gradually replaced by many different saprophytes. The infection biology and sporulation of certain primary colonists are discussed. The importance of decaying banana leaves as a source of inoculum of some banana pathogens is pointed out. [6]


To preserve healthy banana growth various pesticides must be used. Their growth needs to be monitored constantly and banana production management is of great importance. Further studying of the diseases can greatly prevent their occurence.


[2] “Banana diseases, including plantains and abaca.” by: WARDLAW, C. W.
[3] ”Banana diseases in the subtropics: a review of their importance, distribution and management” by: R. Ploetz
[4] ”Black leaf streak and viral leaf streak: New banana diseases in East Africa” by: A. J. Dabeka and J. M. Wallera
[5] “Fusarium wilt of banana and Wallace’s line: Was the disease originally restricted to his Indo-Malayan region?” by: Randy Ploetz and Kenneth Pegg
[6] “Some fungi on decaying banana leaves in Jamaica” by: D.S. Meredith


AUTHOR: Josip Ivanovic


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