India’s Grand Nain banana struck by dangerous mutant fungus strain

According to a study by scientists from National Research Centre for Banana (NRCB), Grand Nain bananas, which are mainly cultivated in India, are being affected with a mutated strain of the TR1 fungus

Fusarium oxysporum f.sp.cubanese, or simply ‘Foc’, is one of the deadliest invasive fungal pathogen affecting banana crops. Though it is a soil-borne fungus, it can also spread through air and water. The fungus has different types categorized as ‘Tropical Race’ (TR) 1, 2, 3 and 4. quoted Dr R Thangavelu, principal scientist at the NRCB as saying: “Earlier we had a banana variety called Gros Michel. It was ravaged by TR1 disease. In order to replace it, the Grand Nain banana was introduced. This banana is known to be resistant to TR1 and TR2 fungus and susceptible to TR4. But our new study shows that these bananas are also prone to newly found mutated strain of TR1.”

The banana is one of the major fruits consumed widely across the world. An important cash crop, it is being cultivated in more than 150 countries today. There are nearly 1,000 varieties or cultivars of banana and they are divided into 50 groups. The most commonly cultivated and exported variety is Cavendish.

India contributes 21 per cent to global production and it is the largest producer in the world. More than 20 varieties of bananas are cultivated in nearly 9 lakh hectares across the country, of which most commonly cultivated is Cavendish cultivars.

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