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Last modified: March 30 March 2008

Contacts or sources of information - Central Plantation Crops Research Institute

Occurrence - The identity of the causal agent, or agents, of coconut (root) wilt disease, also known as Kerala Wilt, remains unresolved and, although MLO were visualised and transmitted by Cassytha filiformis in the 1980s, leading overseas research laboratories have been unable to confirm the presence of the LY type phytoplasma by molecular diagnostics. However, phylogenetic analysis of the Kerala wilt disease phytoplasma (Boby & Mohankumar, 2007) has been used to identify a vector, Proutista moesta and place the KWD phytoplasma into a new LY sub-group. Given the long history of coconut cultivation in India (at least 3000 years BP) it seems altogether possible that phytoplasma will be found associated with coconuts, or other palms. The CPCRI website alsohas information on root (wilt) disease.

The symptoms of Root (wilt) disease are flaccidity, foliar yellowing and marginal necrosis.Research conducted at CPCRI Regional Station, Kayangulam using electron microscope revealed the causal organism as phytoplasma. The disease is spread through insects like lace bug and/or plant hopper. The strategy comprises eradication of disease advanced palms, gap filling with elite disease tolerant seedlings, adoption of mixed farming/intercropping, organic recycling, providing summer irrigation, application of Mg SO4 along with fertilizer, control of leaf rot etc. CPCRI identified disease tolerant palms, among Chowghat Green Dwarf and local talls. Progenies of crosses involving CGD x WCT have been found to be promising.

Spread - Thought to date back to 1882 flooding

Currently active areas - dates and places (seek information/confirmation)

Suspected new outbreaks - specify whether confirmed or unconfirmed (reference)

Other palm/plant hosts

New hosts, new vectors, new strains or suspected loss of resistance - confirmed or unconfirmed

Research projects

K. N. Ponnamma & B. Babjan (2000) Biocontrol agents associated with Proutista moesta, a vector of phytoplasma diseases of palms, with particular reference to Halictophagus palmi. XXI International Entomological Congress, Iguassu, Brasil (August 2000)

Abstract: The planthopper Proutista moesta is a vector of root wilt disease of coconut palm, yellow leaf disease of areca nut, and a putative vector of spear rot disease of oil palm. The natural enemy complex - an endoparasitoid Halictophagus palmi (Strepsiptera), predators Maroissa flavus (Aracinidaea), Chelisoches moris (Dermaptera) and the fungal pathogen Aspergillus flavus play a vital role in the biological suppression of the vector. Bioecology, extent of parasitism potential of the strepsipteran parasite is presented.

Rehabilitation/replanting programmes

Economic importance/threat

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