In May 2018, Israel's National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) officially declared that Tropical race 4 (TR4), the fungal strain that causes Fusarium wilt in a wide range of bananas, had been eradicated from Israel.
In 2016, symptoms of the disease on the cultivar 'Grande Naine' (a Cavendish type) were observed by farmers from Shfeya (Carmel coastal plain). Two months later, similar symptoms were also observed by farmers from Kibbutz Ein Gev, along the eastern shores of Lake Galilee. Samples were collected from symptomatic banana plants and sent for diagnosis to the Plant Protection and Inspection Services of the Ministry of Agriculture. Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense was isolated from symptomatic tissues and identified by PCR in July 2016. TR4 was confirmed by sequencing different regions of the genome (28S ribosomal RNA, a putative pathogenicity protein gene, and TR4 marker genomic sequence). This was the first report of TR4 in Israel.
The two outbreak areas were confined and placed under strict supervision and surveillance by the Israeli NPPO. The area was fenced and cordoned off. All affected plants were destroyed and irrigation terminated. Intensive surveys in adjacent plots conducted since 2016 did not detect the pathogen and no new incursions have been reported. The NPPO therefore concluded that TR4 had been successfully eradicated.
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