Health diagnosis and testing of banana genetic resources

Contributors to this page: Bioversity International, Belgium (Ines Van den Houwe); IITA, Nigeria (Dominique Dumet, Badara Gueye).

List of pests and diseases of quarantine importance for banana

The list below mentions some of the pests/diseases that were considered important worldwide, but many of them may or may not have relevance in specific countries. It also does not consider pests/diseases of limited relevance (e.g. only important in very few countries).

America has the greatest diversity of banana pests, followed by Africa and then Asia. Damage in Africa is often high due to the lack of natural predators of pests. Damage is greatest in the dry season or in dry areas with low or irregular rainfall.

Additional information is available on this website in the section Safe Transfer of Germplasm (STOG).

Options for testing procedures

Recommended methods to detect the presence of each pest or disease.


Any accession officially deposited in the genebank (regardless of its origin) should have a representative sample indexed for banana viruses.

There are three Virus Indexing Centres (VIC) – CIRAD in France, QDPI in Australia or PPRI in South Africa – recognized by Bioiversity, using standard protocols as described in the FAO/IPGRI Technical Guidelines for safe Movement of Germplasm for Banana (FAO/IPGRI 1996).






Testing intervals/seasons

Testing before the material is introduced into the genebank or to the field is important to reduce transfer of diseases or pests.




Weeds, insects and nematodes

Recording information during health diagnosis

The following information should be recorded for each health diagnosis step:

References and further reading

Diekmann M, Putter CAJ, editors. 1996. FAO/IPGRI Technical Guidelines for the Safe Movement of Germplasm. No.15. Musa spp. 2nd edition. Publisher: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome; International Plant Genetic Resources Intstitute, Rome, Italy. 28 pp. Available here.

Helliot B, Panis B, Frison EA, De Clercq E, Swennen R, Lepoivre P, Neyts J. 2003. The acyclic nucleoside phosphonate analogues, adefovir, tenofovir and PMEDAP, efficiently eliminate banana streak virus from banana (Musa spp.). Antiviral Research (NLD), 59 (2):121-126. An abstract of this publication can be read here.

Van den Houwe I, Guns J, Swennen R. 1998. Bacterial contamination in Musa shoot tip cultures. International Symposium on Banana in the Subtropics. Acta Horticulturae 490:485-492. An abstract and purchase of the publication is available here.

Van den Houwe I, Panis B, 2000. In vitro conservation of banana: medium term storage and prospects for cryopreservation. Razdan MK, Cocking E, editors. Conservation of Plant Genetic Resources in vitro. Vol. 2. M/S Science Publishers, USA. pp. 225-257.

Van den Houwe I, Panis B, Arnaud E, Markham R, Swennen R. 2006. The management of banana (Musa spp.) genetic resources at the IPGRI/INIBAP gene bank: the conservation and documentation status. In: Segers H, Desmet P, Baus E, editors. Tropical biodiversity: science, data, conservation. Meeting: 3rd GBIF Science Symposium, Brussels, 18-19 April 2005. pp. 141-150. Available here. (8 MB)

Van den Houwe I,  Swennen R. 2000. Characterization and control of bacterial contaminants in in vitro cultures of banana (Musa spp.). Meeting: International Symposium on Methods and Markers for Quality Assurance in Micropropagation. Acta Horticulturae
530:69-79. An abstract and purchase of the publication is available here.

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The Genebanks

The 11 CGIAR genebanks currently conserve 730,000 of cereals and grain legumes, forage crops, tree species, root and tuber crops, bananas and crop wild relatives.