Fusarium wilt (FW) Tropical Race 4 (TR4) of bananas caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp cubense (Foc), has become widespread throughout south-east Asia. The disease is threatening smallholder banana production in countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, and more recently Lao PDR. Confirmed cases of TR4 have also been reported in the main banana production region of north Queensland Australia. Current and previous ACIAR projects have been developing management systems for banana production to suppress the disease. The research has identified that increasing diversity in cropping systems leads to an increase in soil biological diversity, which can suppress development of Fusarium wilt throughout south-east Asia.
This project builds on the collective knowledge gained from over 30 years of Fusarium wilt research and 15 years of soil health research on bananas within the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF). The project brings together experiences from practical field research linked to the needs of growers, with high end analytical techniques to deliver outcomes to smallholder growers. Experienced gained and developed in Australia from working with banana growers and the use of in-field tools will allow practical outcomes in the management of Fusarium wilt.
The overall research question “Does management of the banana production system make plants more susceptible to Fusarium wilt by altering their microbiome?” will be answered by investigating;
1. How does the microbiome of bananas differ under different management regimes, with the objective to determine the microbiome differences currently existing in banana production systems (Objective 1)?
2. How do farm management practices change the microbiome of bananas and the susceptibility of bananas to Fusarium wilt with the objective to develop country specific farm management options for banana growers to reduce Fusarium wilt (Objective 2)?

Advisory Team: Dr Paul Dennis, Dr Robert Hoelzle

Project members

Anna-Belle CLARKE

PhD Candidate