Panama Disease


Panama Disease

Fusarium oxysporum


In a Nutshell

    Yellow and wilted old leaves and the split stem close to ground levelLeaves turn brown and eventually collapse at the petiole, forming a “skirt” around the stemYellowish to reddish streaks are visible on the stemsReddish to dark-brown discoloration of the internal tissues of stemsEventually, all parts above and below the ground rot and die

Hosts: %1$s

· Banana


Symptoms can vary slightly depending on the banana variety, the strength of the pathogen and the environmental conditions. The disease affects older leaves first and moves gradually upwards to the younger ones. The disease is characterized by yellow and wilted leaves and petioles and the splitting of the base of the stem. Diseased leaves turn brown, dry and eventually collapse at the petiole, forming a “skirt” around the stem. Yellowish to reddish streaks are visible on the stems, becoming more intense at the base. Cross sections show a reddish to dark-brown discoloration of the internal tissues, an indication of fungal growth and rotting of tissue. Eventually, all parts above and below ground rot and die.


Panama disease (also called Fusarium wilt) is caused by a subspecies of the fungus Fusarium oxyporum, that can survive in soils for decades. It enters the plant through the tiny root hairs, a process that is favored in light, poorly drained soils. It is be spread over short distances by surface water, vehicles, tools and footwear. Infected planting material, in turn, is the most common way the disease is spread over long distances. Elevated temperatures are an important component in the progression of the disease. The chlorosis of leaves and the lack of plant vigor occurs due to the decay of the transport tissues in the stem which leads to impaired water and nutrient transport. If all conditions are met, Fusarium wilt can be a very destructive disease in banana.

Biological Control

The application of biocontrol agents such as the fungus Trichoderma viride or the bacteria Pseudomonas fluorescens in the soil are effective methods to decrease the incidence and severity of the disease.

Chemical Control

Always consider an integrated approach with preventive measures together with biological treatments if available. Contrarily to other fungal diseases in banana fusarium wilt, once detected, cannot be controlled with fungicides. Dipping plantlets in carbendazim (10g/10 litres of water) followed by drenching of the soil every second month starting 6 months after planting is recommended.

Preventive Measures

    Use only healthy planting material from certified sourcesPlant resistant varieties if availableEnsure good drainageMonitor plants every second weekUse a herbicide to kill diseased plants in placeUproot severely affected plants and burn them separately on the spotBeware of inadvertently transporting soil from infected areas to clean areasDisinfect tools, equipment and farm machinery using sodium hypochlorite bleachDo not plant banana in highly infected soils for the next 3-4 yearsRotate with sugarcane, rice or sunflower to reduce the incidenceIntercrop with Chinese leeks (Allium tuberosum)Foster the presence of microorganism that suppress the growth of the fungus


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