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International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Sun 11 Feb 2018
Source: The News [edited]
< print/279409-mysterious- blight-mowing-down-date- plantations>

[A] mysterious blight [is] mowing down date plantations. [It] has
caused killing of date trees in Khairpur district, triggering a wave
of panic among date producers. Information from farmers and
researchers revealed that nobody is capable enough, despite collecting
soil samples from plant roots, to identify the exact problems which
are making trunk and trees dying one after another.

Agriculture scientists agreed that soil nutrient deficiency is
increasing. [A] growing trend of multi-cropping is [also] considered
harmful to soil fertility. In the district, numerous date gardens are
as old as 60 to 80 years. Some trees are even 100-year old, but are
still bearing fruits. After witnessing the losses, farmers are
reluctant to plant new date trees. Some cut the affected trees
instantly to save others.

"The "virus" first hit Khairpur 4 to 5 years ago and now it is
endemic," [a farmer] said. Farmers said if the emerging threat
continues to harm tall trees the date production may decline and
worsen [their] vulnerability.

[Byline: Jan Khaskheli]
Communicated by:

[Date palm (_Phoenix dactylifera_) is cultivated in many hot, dry
regions as a staple food source. A large number of fungi and some
other pathogens, as well as several diseases of unknown aetiology have
been reported for this crop and productivity has declined globally..

An unknown disease attacking date palms in Sindh has been reported
since about 2008 (see ProMED-mail posts 20100503.1435, 20090806.2776, 20080730.2323]. Symptoms of this 'sudden
date decline' (SDD) were reported to be similar to Bayoud disease
(_Fusarium oxysporum_; ProMED-mail post 20080909.2817) and may include bleaching
and drying of fronds, followed by death of the tree. Although the
report above mentions a "virus", it is likely that this is used as a
general term to indicate disease and that the problem described is

In 2014, several fungal species were isolated from different plant
parts of SDD affected trees in various locations in Khairpur
(ProMED-mail post 20140723.2629399).
However, association of these fungi with diseased palms does not prove
their causal role (Koch's rules must be fulfilled, i.e. re-isolation
of the pathogen after culture and transmission; see ProMED-mail post 20171228.5526316). It is currently thought
that SDD is due to several pathogens and possibly other factors as
well. Environmental and nutritional stress (as mentioned above) may
predispose palms for infection.

Until a cause can be identified and effective management strategies
can be designed, fungicide sprays have been found to improve palm
condition (see links below) and to enable fruit production for longer
periods. Tissue culture programmes for crop improvement that could be
used to produce disease-free replanting material have been established
in Pakistan (ProMED-mail post 20090806.2776) and other countries.

A sudden decline of date palms caused by bacteria in the genus
_Erwinia_ has been reported from Saudi Arabia (see link below). It is
not clear whether research has been done in Pakistan to look for this
or other bacterial pathogens in association with SDD.

Pakistan (with provinces):
< maps/middle_east_and_asia/ pakistan_pol_2002.jpg>
Sindh districts:
<http://pakistan360degrees. com/wp-content/uploads/2010/ 01/Sindh-Map-Pakistan.jpg>

Pakistan SDD symptoms:
< default/files/pictures/date- infected.png>,
< default/files/pictures/date- cured.png>
(recovery after fungicides) and photo gallery via
< publication/260225334_Date_ Palm_Wilt_Disease_Sudden_ Decline_Syndrome_in_Pakistan_ Symptoms_and_Remedy1>
Bayoud disease symptoms:
< files/image/diseases/Bayoud01. jpg>,
< jAmrwrG6Prw/TwI_7EovM9I/ AAAAAAAABJ8/kKGPH4DeCO8/s1600/ Date+Palm+Death.jpg>
< 006/y4360e/y4360e2c.jpg>
Healthy date palms:
<http://girlsoloinarabia. datepalm_groves.jpg>
(grove) and
< wikipedia/commons/1/17/Dates_ on_date_palm.jpg>
(fruit stands)

Sudden decline of date palm in Pakistan:
< publication/260225334_Date_ Palm_Wilt_Disease_Sudden_ Decline_Syndrome_in_Pakistan_ Symptoms_and_Remedy1>
(with pictures),
< content/plant-protection- division> (effect of
< PDFs/45(S1)/02.pdf> and via
< docs/pnaea333.pdf>
Information on Bayoud and other date palm diseases:
< 006/Y4360E/y4360e0g.htm>,
< index.php?page_id=191>,
< datepalm/datepalm1/datepalm1_ 26.pdf> and
< func=fulltext&aId=49155>
Bacterial SDD in Saudi Arabia:
<https://apsjournals.apsnet. org/doi/10.1094/PDIS.2001.85. 1.24>
Fungal taxonomy via:
< names/names.asp>
List of major diseases and pathogens of date palm:
< publications/commonnames/ Pages/DatePalm.aspx>
Information on date palm cultivation and diseases:
< 006/Y4360E/Y4360E00.HTM> and
< newcrop/morton/Date.html>
FAO global date palm network:
< en/news/2004/48147/index.html>
 - Mod.DHA]

[See Also:
Black scorch, date palm - United Arab Emirates 20161020.4572025
Undiagnosed disease, coconut palm - India: (KL) 20160727.4372442
Grey leaf spot, coconut palm - India: (TN) 20160608.4272407
Black scorch, date palm - Qatar: 1st report 20141015.2868387
Sudden decline, date palm - Pakistan: (SD) 20140723.2629399
Bud rot, coconut palm - India: (KL) 20140410.2393856
Undiagnosed diseases, date palm - Qatar 20121213.1448829
Red ring disease, coconut palm - Trinidad & Tobago: update 20111103.3280
Al-Wijam Egypt (02): clarification 20110601.1680
Al-Wijam disease, date palm - Egypt: 1st report 20110519.1512
Undiagnosed disease, date palm - Pakistan: (SD) 20100503.1435
Undiagnosed diseases, date palm - Pakistan: (SD) 20090806.2776
Brittle leaf, date palm - Libya: 1st rep. 20080919.2934
Fungal alerts - Middle East 20080909.2817
Undiagnosed diseases, date palm - Pakistan 20080730.2323
Al-Wijam disease, date palm - Saudi Arabia: phytoplasma 20070514.1536
False smut disease, date palm - Qatar: 1st report 20040821.2325
Brittle leaf disease, dates - Tunisia (EPPO alert list) 20030816.2044
Erwinia chrysanthemi, date palm - Saudi Arabia 20011209.2979
Fusarium, date palms - Saudi Arabia 20010103.0013
and additional items on palm diseases in the archives]
............................... lm
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