Research and development on Panama TR4

Research and development: Panama disease TR4

Panama disease tropical race 4 was detected in North Queensland in March 2015. Since this time, several research projects have commenced with the aim of supporting of the Australian banana industry. There is no single solution to managing the disease therefore an integrated approach is being undertaken.

New research updates


Below is a list of collaborators that the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries have partnered with to focus on a variety of Panama disease tropical race 4 research projects.

Australian Banana Growers' Council (ABGC)

University of Queensland

Queensland Alliance of Agriculture and Food Innovation

South Australian Research and Development Institute

James Cook University

Research topics

  • Developing effective science based on-farm biosecurity practices
    This area of research focuses on improving existing on-farm biosecurity practices  such as  assessing the effectiveness of disinfectant products in killing disease spores and understanding how to manage waste.
  • Developing tools for early detection of the disease
    This area of research focuses on evaluating the potential to validate new diagnostic methods with non-destructive, in-field testing and how they might be used to support future diagnostic protocols.
  • Seeking to better understand the epidemiology of the disease
    This area of research focuses on investigating the infection process of the fungus in the banana plant, with particular emphasis on its presence in sap.  Results will provide a better basis for decision-making regarding disease containment.
  • Determining the host status of weed and vegetative cover species and identifying potential cover crop options to reduce inoculum
    This area of research aims to determine the host status of common weeds and cover crops in Queensland and to improve access to alternative non-host species.
  • Understanding the role of soil biology in supressing the disease
    This area of research focuses on developing resilient disease-management options and involves assessing the use of cover crops to reduce inoculum, using microbes to suppress soil biology and understanding the role that plant stress plays in relation to the disease.
  • Understanding how plant stress influences the disease
    The aim of this area of research is to determine how plant stress influences disease infection and the role plant stress plays in reducing defense and increasing susceptibility to the disease.
  • Developing varieties of banana plants that have an improved tolerance to Panama disease tropical race 4 using mutagenesis on tissue cultured plants
    This area of research aims to increase the tolerance of those varieties that naturally have a stronger tolerance to the disease. It also focuses on improving the market acceptability and production characteristics for other cultivars with higher levels of tolerance.
  • Developing a replacement system for the Quality Banana Approved Nursery (QBAN) scheme for clean planting material
    This area of research focuses on developing a more efficient QBAN scheme that is based on accredited banana mother blocks for production of clean suckers for planting material or for tissue culture initiation. The new scheme will include accredited production blocks, tissue culture laboratories and nurseries.
  • Developing digital tools for the adoption of best on-farm biosecurity practices
    This area of research focuses on the development of online and mobile based tools to assist with the implementation of on-farm biosecurity practices.
  • Developing improved molecular diagnostic assays
    This area of research focuses on both the development and adoption of new molecular assays and on improving sample processing to reduce molecular diagnostic turnaround times.