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Early Screening of Eumusa and Australimusa Bananas against Root-lesion and Root-knot Nematodes

Ruth STOFFELEN researcher laureate

°1978 Belgium
Bio-engineer in agriculture, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, 1994

Early Screening of Eumusa and Australimusa Bananas against Root-lesion and Root-knot Nematodes

The research focused on one of most important and major food crops, bananas. An immense number of people in the tropics depend on bananas both as a source of food and as a source of income from local and export sales. A large part of the population in the developed nations also consumes this crop. But disease causing organisms, such as nematodes, are major constraints to an optimum productivity, gravely affecting the livelihood of populations that rely on it in countries mainly in the south. Consequently attention has already been given to research in this particular field, i.e. nematode control, for quitesometime. Nevertheless hitherto methods of control relied largely on the use of nematicides, which are potentially toxic chemicals for non-target organisms in the environment including humans, and are unaffordable to the very people who need the desirable effects of these chemicals. One main line of research, which has not been optimally satisfactory yet, is the search for resistance and tolerance in the Musa gene pool. Some of the main problems in this regard are the lack of an easy and standardized screening methodology, the inherent diversity of the crop and the nematode parasites. This research work is an important contribution towards solving these problems.

1. The problem of lack of a standard screening procedure has been a constraint in the further development of this field of research. The early, fast and reliable (in vitro) screening method developed in this work will undoubtedly be a useful tool in the future search for sources of resistance.
2. Seen within the light of the already existing limited resistance to the species, the two new sources of resistance to one of most damaging nematode species (Radopholus similis) is a significant contribution of this work.
3. The consideration given to root architecture is also a step forward on the research path that will lead to the understanding of tolerance in banana gene pool.

Furthermore, as is expected from a good scientific research, this research not only did answer important questions but also raised important, unanswered issues that researchers need to give due consideration in their future related research work. Since some of basic steps have already been laid by this work, continuous endeavor in the field of nematode control in bananas, hopefully, will look into the problems indicated in the thesis.

report by Dr. Eyualem Abebe, Department of biology, Universiteit Gent, Belgium