Evaluating the potential of soil management to reduce the effect of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense in banana (Musa AAA)

Segura Mena, R.; Stoorvogel, J.J.; Garcia Bastidas, F.A.; Salacinas, M.A.; Kema, G.H.J.; Sandoval, Jorge A.


Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense (Foc) causes Fusarium wilt in banana (Musa AAA). Foc Race 1 devastated the subgroup Gros Michel during the first half of the twentieth century. The Gros Michel was largely replaced by the resistant subgroup Cavendish in the 1950s. However, in the 1980s, Foc Tropical Race 4 started to spread affecting Cavendish bananas. No proper control measures have been found to deal with the disease. This paper re-takes an important research line from the 1950s to evaluate the potential of soil management for Fusarium wilt management. The role of soil properties on Fusarium wilt in bananas was studied in two greenhouse experiments. It was evaluated whether the influence of two main soil properties (pH and N) on Fusarium wilt is similar for Race 1 and Tropical Race 4. Two soil pH levels (lower than 5.2 and higher than 6.0) respectively ensured through acidification and liming; and three levels of N (ammonium nitrate, 33.5% N) weekly doses (low:0 N g, medium: 0.08 N g and high: 0.25 N g per plant) were achieved. The first experiment in Costa Rica confirmed the earlier results about the influence of soil pH and nitrogen on Fusarium wilt (Race 1) on Gros Michel bananas. The second experiment in The Netherlands evaluated the influence of pH and N on interactions between Foc (both Race 1 and Tropical Race 4) and Cavendish bananas. Results in both experiments showed that soil pH affected crop development and the disease. Besides, the interaction of the lower pH x the higher N accelerated the infection and reduced plant development. As such, the results showed that soil management has the potential to reduce the impacts of Fusarium wilt while dealing with Race 1 and Tropical Race 4 although it requires confirmation and further evaluation under field conditions.