Update: New Pest & Disease Records (28 May 14)

Entomophthoroid fungi, like that found in Argentina, can infect and kill aphids (Credit: Sergio sanchez)

We’ve selected a few of the latest new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases from CAB Abstracts. Records this fortnight include the identification of Dickeya zeae as a causal agent of bacterial soft rot in banana in China, the natural occurrence of entomophthoroid fungi of aphid pests on alfalfa in Argentina and the identification of insect vectors of Rice yellow mottle virus (RYMV) in Benin.

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Keeping an eye on banana disease

The bacterial disease Xanthomonas wilt causes banana fruit to rot.
The bacterial disease Xanthomonas wilt causes banana fruit to rot © Pascale Lepoint / Bioversity International

Dr. Fen Beed is an experienced plant pathologist based at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He leads research for development activities to mitigate the impact of diseases of maize, soybean, cowpea, cassava, banana and vegetables and promotes plant diseases on problematic weeds.

The first and critical step to manage a disease is to diagnose the causal agent(s). Once this is done, appropriate control methods can be deployed, based on available knowledge or on results generated from targeted research. IITA led an initiative to define the factors required to create a functioning disease surveillance network across a region.

The initiative targeted the two most serious threats to banana in the Great Lakes region of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA); namely banana Xanthomonas wilt (BXW), caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris pv. musacearum (Xcm), and banana bunchy top disease (BBTD), caused by the banana bunchy top virus (BBTV). BXW and BBTD are established in several countries in SSA where banana production is of critical importance. Countries included were Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. In order, to strengthen both national and regional communication pathways, representatives from both national research organisations and national plant protection organisations agreed to form a network for regional surveillance of BXW and BBTD. The specific objectives were to share information on the diagnosis and management of these diseases and to map their distribution across locations that were of strategic importance to the region. Continue reading