( Courtesy Wageningen University & Research )

A university in The Netherlands has developed a fast field test for detecting Tropical Race 4, the fusarium strain that causes the Panama disease in bananas.

Wageningen University & Research in Wageningen, The Netherlands, recently tested the equipment and process in Colombia, where the disease has been detected. The test, LAMP (Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification assay), allows banana growers to bypass laboratory tests by taking samples and assessing them in fields.

A research team led by phytopathology professor Gert Kema developed the LAMP test, according to a university news release.

“The main benefit of the new LAMP test is that it has a handy size and can be used in the field,” Kema said in the release. “It is no longer necessary to employ a laboratory to analyse the samples. In principle, any company active in banana farming can purchase the device, train its employees and deploy it immediately.”

The equipment that analyzes the field samples is about the size of a shoe box, and results are available within an hour. Researchers visited banana-producing regions of Colombia and the Philippines, according to the release, and growers and authorities were able to use it easily.

Fast tests are indispensable to adequately establish quarantine measures for any pandemic,” Kema said in the release. “This is a key development for the industry.”

A YouTube video shows the equipment and process used to detect the TR4 disease.

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