Fusarium fungi in banana plants alter nearby and internal microbial communities

As an important food and cash crop, bananas are affected by a myriad of biotic and abiotic stresses. Among them, different strains of Fusarium cause Fusarium wilt of banana (FWB) that severely affects banana production worldwide. Increasing evidence indicates that the plant microbiome, confers fitness advantages to the plant host, including stress tolerance and resistance to pathogens. In order to detect the inherent reasons for this resistance, this project will focus on the analysis of the rhizosphere and endophytic microbiome of TR4-resistant banana and determines the core microbial community that affects the severity of FWB on banana.


Banana evolved in Southeast Asia, and currently is a key staple food and fruit in countries all over the world. Due to their widespread popularity, bananas have the largest market share of any fruit worldwide. Bananas are nutritious and starchy, making it the fourth most important food crop after wheat, rice, and corn, for the alleviation of human food security in low and middle income countries. As sterile triploids, the major commercial banana cultivars (mostly Cavendish) are usually multiplied by using vegetative propagation and represent >50% of global production, resulting in a major monoculture.

Project description

The production of bananas is seriously threatened by various biotic and abiotic stresses, especially a suite of Fusarium species that cause Fusarium wilt of banana (FWB). Once colonizing the banana tissue, any curative physical or chemical means is difficult to apply to remove the pathogen. With limited options to manage FWB, resistant cultivars are the only consistently effective tool for controlling the disease in pathogen infested soils. Nevertheless, due to the clonal nature of bananas (reduced genetic diversity) resistant cultivars are scarce. Therefore, a method to control the infection of Fusarium species that cause FWB by offering great diversity and functional potential is crucial to secure global banana production.

Microorganisms colonizing the rhizosphere, phyllosphere, and endosphere of plants play an important role in plant health and productivity. The discovery of the relationship between rhizosphere microorganism dynamics and host health may be used in bioengineering and biotechnology to improve agricultural productivity. Manipulating rhizosphere microorganisms to control pathogens has also proved to be an effective strategy for crop protection. The traits make microbiome be potential natural resources for biological control of FWB. Clarifying the fundamental ecological patterns of the composition and function of the of root-associated beneficial microbial communities are prerequisite for harnessing plant microbiomes to enhance plant health and to maximize crop production.

In this project we seek to increase the discovery of microbial communities that function as biological controls to contribute to Fusarium wilt suppression of banana.