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Posts Tagged ‘Mozambique’

IJSEM

International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Biology

http://ijs.sgmjournals.org/content/64/Pt_6/1890.short

‘Candidatus Phytoplasma palmicola’, associated with a lethal yellowing-type disease of coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) in Mozambique

Nigel A. Harrison1, Robert E. Davis2, Carlos Oropeza3, Ericka E. Helmick1, María Narváez3, Simon Eden-Green4, Michel Dollet5 and Matthew Dickinson6
+ Author Affiliations

1University of Florida, Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, 3205 College Avenue, Davie, FL 33314, USA
2Molecular Plant Pathology Laboratory, USDA–Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA
3Centro de Investigación Científica de Yucatán (CICY), CP 97200 Mérida, Yucatan, Mexico
4EG Consulting, Larkfield, Kent, UK
5CIRAD, Etiologie – dépérissement, UPR 29, Campus international de Baillarguet, 34398 Montpellier cedex 5, France
6School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough LE12 5RD, UK
Correspondence
Nigel A. Harrison naha@ufl.edu

Abstract

In this study, the taxonomic position and group classification of the phytoplasma associated with a lethal yellowing-type disease (LYD) of coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) in Mozambique were addressed. Pairwise similarity values based on alignment of nearly full-length 16S rRNA gene sequences (1530 bp) revealed that the Mozambique coconut phytoplasma (LYDM) shared 100 % identity with a comparable sequence derived from a phytoplasma strain (LDN) responsible for Awka wilt disease of coconut in Nigeria, and shared 99.0–99.6 % identity with 16S rRNA gene sequences from strains associated with Cape St Paul wilt (CSPW) disease of coconut in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Similarity scores further determined that the 16S rRNA gene of the LYDM phytoplasma shared <97.5 % sequence identity with all previously described members of ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma’. The presence of unique regions in the 16S rRNA gene sequence distinguished the LYDM phytoplasma from all currently described members of ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma’, justifying its recognition as the reference strain of a novel taxon, ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma palmicola’. Virtual RFLP profiles of the F2n/R2 portion (1251 bp) of the 16S rRNA gene and pattern similarity coefficients delineated coconut LYDM phytoplasma strains from Mozambique as novel members of established group 16SrXXII, subgroup A (16SrXXII-A). Similarity coefficients of 0.97 were obtained for comparisons between subgroup 16SrXXII-A strains and CSPW phytoplasmas from Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. On this basis, the CSPW phytoplasma strains were designated members of a novel subgroup, 16SrXXII-B.

The GenBank/EMBL/DDBJ accession numbers for the 16S rRNA gene sequences determined in this study are EU549768, KF364359, KF387570, KF419286, KF751387 and KF751388.

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http://www.freshfruitportal.com/2014/05/30/mozambique-panama-disease-talks-to-yield-containment-report/?country=australia

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May 30th, 2014
A development strategy to fight and contain a potentially deadly outbreak of the Tropical Race (TR4) strain of Panama Disease in Mozambique is being put together by a team of delegates who gathered in Africa last month to discuss a tactical approach to suppressing the banana disease so it doesn’t spread elsewhere on the continent. At www.freshfruitportal.com we reveal details of the workshop program ahead of an in-depth report to be published later this year.

Over the last few weeks a delegation of banana experts has been involved in discussions centering on the spread of TR4 to the African continent.

Since the fungus was discovered on a Matanuska banana plantation 15 months ago, a team of experts has joined forces to set up educational programs, while it is understood that a ‘continental action plan’ is currently being drafted.

Key players include the South African research institute Stellenbosch University, the South African Development Community (SADC), the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The program is also being supported and part funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).

“When symptoms of yellowing and wilting of Cavendish bananas that appeared to be spreading were observed in an export plantation in northern Mozambique in February 2013, few would have expected the immense challenges that the following 12 months would bring,” the group has said in an initial report obtained by www.freshfruitportal.com.

“Once the cause of the symptoms was established, business became unusual for many on the continent, and indeed globally, as banana producers and their associated organizations started looking for answers to their questions and for measures to protect their crops.

“The development of a continental action plan to protect bananas in Africa became priority. Foc TR4 is not new to the banana world anymore. It has been ravaging Cavendish plantations and some local banana varieties in Asia for more than two decades.”

The document highlighted that bananas were a staple food for millions of people in Africa, and therefore it was necessary to form not only a containment strategy for the affected farm, but to make the whole continent prepared against a spread and possible reintroduction.

“This is exactly what the African meeting on TR4 intends to achieve,” the report adds.

It goes on to explain the considerable damage to Cavendish bananas and other locally-grown varieties in other countries around the world and how Mozambique needs to manage the disease outbreak.

“To prepare African countries reliant on banana for food and security and income generation, it is necessary to implement a series of informed interventions. The first priority is to contain the outbreak in northern Mozambique and prevent its spread across the region and to neighbouring countries.

“The second phase of activities is to prepare other countries dependent on banana against future incursions of this disease through enhanced plant bio-security frameworks and research capacity.

“Different types of banana germplasm, reflecting the diversity cultivated in Africa, require screening for resistance to Foc TR4, and the appropriate adoption and delivery pathways developed to provide resistant planting materials to hundreds of millions of Africans who depend on the crop for food security and income generation.”

The full report will contain further information including scientific advances and research approaches to detect and manage TR4, the potential impact TR4 will have on food availability in Africa, trans-boundary plant pest management in Africa, a mapping of the risks of any potential spread, and an overall official strategy to manage its control which sets out clear roles and responsibilities for all the institutions involved.

“This is not a task that a single research group or country can achieve. The discovery of TR4 in Mozambique is not a company or country issue. It is a continental issue which needs to be addresses by research organizations, national plant protection organizations, universities and governments throughout Africa,” the report goes on to say.

“The opportunity to develop a strategy and coordinate efforts on the continent has been made possible by much appreciated sponsorship and we thank the organizations for recognizing the importance of the outbreak and for enabling us to develop a combined strategy to deal with it.”

Meanwhile there has been somewhat of a global focus on maintaining TR4 Panama Disease this year with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations hosting a forum in Rome recently to outline the threat it poses to the international banana industry, food security and economies.

Chiquita CEO Ed Lonergan has also praised the global banana industry for its efforts to deal with TR4 and warned it would be prudent to prepare for life without the Cavendish.

www.freshfruitportal.com

 

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http://www.scidev.net/global/agriculture/news/bee-booby-traps-defend-african-farms-from-elephants.html

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Dieter Telemans / Panos

Speed read

  • Conflicts between farmers and elephants are a growing problem
  • Fences incorporating beehives take advantage of elephants’ aversion to bees
  • ‘Beehive fences’ are in use in Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda

 

[NAIROBI] Wire fences booby-trapped with beehives are being built in five African countries to prevent elephants from raiding farms, while also providing local people with honey.‘Beehive fences’ are now being put up in Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda by UK charity Save the Elephant, says Lucy King, leader of the Elephants and Bees Project in Kenya — and they are already in use at three communities in Kenya.

The project, which is a collaboration between Save the Elephants, the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, studies how to use the African bush elephants’ instinctive avoidance of African honey bees to avoid crop losses.

King says conflicts between farmers and elephants are a growing problem, with the animals’ encroachment onto farms causing massive crop losses.

But she tells SciDev.Net that it is easy to construct simple beehive fences using local materials.Hives are hung every 30 feet and linked together,” says King. If an elephant touches one of the hives or the interconnecting wires, the beehives all along the fence swing and release the stinging insects.

Global distribution of undernourishment_Figure 1_F&F
The hives, which are connected with trip wires, are easily upset — releasing the stinging insects — if elephants get too close. Credit: The Elephants and Bees Project in Kenya. ENLARGE ICON Click here to enlarge

She says that a pilot study she led involving 34 farms on the edge of two farming communities in northern Kenya found beehive fences to be an effective elephant deterrent compared with traditional thorn bush barriers.

King says that in the study, which was published in 2011 in the African Journal of Ecology, elephants made 14 attempts to enter farmland and 13 of these were unsuccessful. In each case the elephants were forced to turn away from the area after confronting a beehive fence or walk the length of the fence to choose an easier entry point through a thorn bush.

Only once did elephants break through a beehive fence to eat crops, according to the paper.

Where elephants and agricultural land overlap, incidents of humananimal conflict are on the increase.

Paul Udoto, Kenya Wildlife Service 

More than a decade ago, research found that elephants avoid feeding on acacia trees with beehives in them, says King. “This was followed by behavioural experiments demonstrating that not only do elephants run from bee sounds, but they also have an alarm call that alerts family members to retreat from a possible bee threat,” she says.

Electric fences have proved successful in barring elephants from some human designated areas, says the study. But King notes that, in Kenya, electrification projects often fail because of poor maintenance, spiralling costs and the lack of buying capacity among the communities where the elephants are common.

King says farmers and conservation agencies have focused recently on the effectiveness of farmer-based deterrents such as fire crackers, dogs or drums, but the use of beehive fences has proven more successful.

A similar method — playing recorded tiger growls to scare off marauding elephants — has been trialled separately in India.

According to Paul Udoto, corporate communications manager at the Kenya Wildlife Service, the use of beehive fences to prevent elephants from raiding farms is not a silver bullet, but it could be used alongside these other interventions.

He adds that human-animal conflict is largely due to people moving onto land used by animals.

Where elephants and agricultural land overlap, incidents of humananimal conflict are on the increase, Udoto tells SciDev.Net.

Suresh Raina, a bee expert at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Kenya, is impressed with the idea.It is an intelligent solution to a challenge which farmers were facing in the past to save crops from the incursion of elephants in their fields, he tells SciDev.Net.

> Link to full paper in the Journal of African Ecology

 

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The INDEPENDENT, 09 April, 2014

CAHAL MILMO Author Biography CHIEF REPORTER

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/bananageddon-millions-face-hunger-as-deadly-fungus-decimates-global-banana-crop-9239464.html?dm_i=1ANQ,2D17K,6LPWNX,8KL1J,1

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Disease spreads from Asia to Africa and may already have jumped to crucial plantations in Latin America

Scientists have warned that the world’s banana crop, worth £26 billion and a crucial part of the diet of more than 400 million people, is facing “disaster” from virulent diseases immune to pesticides or other forms of control.

Alarm at the most potent threat – a fungus known as Panama disease tropical race 4 (TR4) – has risen dramatically after it was announced in recent weeks that it has jumped from South-east Asia, where it has already devastated export crops, to Mozambique and Jordan.

A United Nations agency told The Independent that the spread of TR4 represents an “expanded threat to global banana production”. Experts said there is a risk that the fungus, for which there is currently no effective treatment, has also already made the leap to the world’s most important banana growing areas in Latin America, where the disease threatens to destroy vast plantations of the Cavendish variety. The variety accounts for 95 per cent of the bananas shipped to export markets including the United Kingdom, in a trade worth £5.4bn.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) will warn in the coming days that the presence of TR4 in the Middle East and Africa means “virtually all export banana plantations” are vulnerable unless its spread can be stopped and new resistant strains developed.

In a briefing document obtained by The Independent, the FAO warns: “In view of the challenges associated with control of the disease and the risk posed to the global banana supply, it is evident that a concerted effort is required from industry, research institutions, government and international organisations to prevent spread of the disease.”

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An aircraft sprays fungicide over a plantation (Getty Images)

 

Scientists are particularly concerned about the impact of TR4 across the developing world, where an estimated 410 million people rely on the fruit for up to a third of their daily calories.

According to one estimate, TR4 could destroy up to 85 per cent of the world’s banana crop by volume.

Since it emerged in the 1950s as the replacement for another banana variety ravaged by an earlier form of Panama disease, Cavendish has helped make bananas the most valuable fruit crop in the world, dominated by large multinational growing companies such as Fyffes, Chiquita and Dole.

But the crop – and many other banana varieties – have no defence against TR4, which can live for 30 years or more in the soil and reduces the core of the banana plant to a blackened mush.

It can wipe out plantations within two or three years and despite measures to try to prevent its spread from the original outbreak in Indonesia, it is now on the move. Such is the virulence of soil-based fungus, it can be spread in water droplets or tiny amounts of earth on machinery or shoes.

Professor Rony Swennen, a leading banana expert based at Leuven University in Belgium, said: “If [TR4] is in Latin America, it is going to be a disaster, whatever the multinationals do. Teams of workers move across different countries. The risk is it is going to spread like a bush fire.”

Another senior scientist, who asked not to be named because of his links with the banana industry, said: “There are good grounds for believing that TR4 is already in Latin America.”

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Professor Rony Swennen, leading banana expert based at the University of Leuven

The Panama fungus is just one of several diseases which also threaten banana production, in particular among smallholders and subsistence farmers.

Black sigatoka, another fungus to have spread from Asia, has decimated production in parts of the Caribbean since it arrived in the 1990s, reducing exports by 90 to 100 per cent in five countries.

READ MORE: WHERE SEEDS OF THE FUTURE ARE GROWN

Researchers say they are struggling to secure funding to discover new banana varieties or develop disease-resistant GM strains.

Professor Randy Ploetz, of the University of Florida, said: “The Jordan and Mozambique TR4 outbreaks are alarming but have helped increase awareness about this problem.”

But the large producers insist the problem can be controlled. Dublin-based Fyffes, which last month announced a merger with America’s Chiquita to form the world’s largest banana company, said: “While we continue to monitor the situation, as of yet we do not foresee any serious impact for UK banana supplies.”

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A lab holding the World Banana Collection at the University of Leuven A lab holding the World Banana Collection at the University of Leuven

The Cavendish: A top banana under threat

When the world banana industry found itself in crisis in the 1950s, it was saved by a fruit cultivated in Derbyshire and named after a duke.

The Cavendish banana was grown by the gardener and architect Joseph Paxton while he was working for the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth House.

Paxton managed to acquire one of two banana plants sent to England in around 1830 and began growing the fruit in the stately home’s glasshouses. He named his banana Musa cavendishii after the 6th Duke of Devonshire, William Cavendish.

The Chatsworth bananas were later sent to Samoa and the Canary Islands, providing forerunners for the variety which emerged in the 1950s to succeed the Gros Michel or Big Mike – the banana sub-species wiped out by an early version of Panama disease between 1903 and 1960.

Cavendish is now the world’s single most successful – and valuable – banana, accounting for 47 per cent of all cultivated bananas and nearly the entire export trade, worth £5.3 billion.

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