Background: Cavendish, the most widely grown banana cultivar, is relatively resistant to Race 1 of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense (Foc1) which caused widespread Panama disease during the first half of the 20th century but is susceptible to Tropical Race 4 of Foc (Foc TR4) which is threatening world banana production. The genome of the diploid species Musa acuminata which is the ancestor of a majority of triploid banana cultivars has recently been sequenced. Availability of banana transcriptomes will be highly useful for improving banana genome annotation and for biological research. The knowledge of global gene expression patterns influenced by infection of different Foc races will help to understand the host responses to the infection.Results: RNA samples from different organs of the Cavendish cultivar were pooled for deep sequencing using the Illumina technology. Analysis of the banana transcriptome led to identification of over 842 genes that were not annotated by the Musa genome project. A large number of simple nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and short insertions and deletion (indels) were identified from the transcriptome data. GFP-expressing Foc1 and Foc TR4 were used to monitor the infection process. Both Foc1 and Foc TR4 were found to be able to invade banana roots and spread to root vascular tissues in the first two days following inoculation. Digital gene expression (DGE) profiling analysis reveal that the infection by Foc1 and Foc TR4 caused very similar changes in the global gene expression profiles in the banana roots during the first two days of infection. The Foc infection led to induction of many well-known defense-related genes. Two genes encoding the ethylene biosynthetic enzyme ACC oxidase and several ethylene-responsive transcription factors (ERF) were among the strongly induced genes by both Foc1 and Foc TR4.Conclusions: Both Foc1 and Foc TR4 are able to spread into the vascular system of banana roots during the early infection process and their infection led to similar gene expression profiles in banana roots. The transcriptome profiling analysis indicates that the ethylene synthetic and signalling pathways were activated in response to the Foc infection.
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