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International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Sun 28 Jan 2018
Source: Post-Courier [edited]
< serious-threat-bananas-png/>

Bananas in the country are facing a real threat from what is called
the 'banana wilt associated phytoplasma' disease. Acting Chief plant
protection officer, David Tenakanai, said the local staple is facing a
real threat. "We have noticed the problem in Sandaun Province, but it
has now spread to Madang, towards Lae and we found patches of it in
Milne Bay and Western Province.

Similar to the Bogia coconut syndrome currently in Madang Province, it
is spread by insects, via banana suckers and coconut seedlings. "The
concern we have now, is that this occurs when people are moving the
suckers around," Mr Tenakanai said. Visible symptoms can be

"We are looking at yellowing of the banana leaves and fruit bunches
that do not develop into bananas. Dropping of the leaves leads to the
entire plant dying. When people see this they must not move the banana

[Byline: Matthew Vari]
Communicated by:

[Bogia coconut syndrome (BCS) is associated with a phytoplasma of the
palm lethal yellowing (LY) taxonomic group (16SrIV; for more
information see previous ProMED-mail posts in the archives). BCS is
reported to spread rapidly in PNG and to have caused losses of over
5000 trees. It is considered a threat to regional coconut production,
the economically important national oil palm industry, as well as a
valuable coconut germplasm collection located near Madang (ProMED-mail
post 20130614.1770603).

A possible causal relationship between presence of phytoplasmas and
unusual wilt symptoms in cooking banana plants was reported from PNG
in 2011 (ProMED-mail post 20110223.0592).
Sequence analysis showed that phytoplasmas from diseased plants in 4
provinces were unique, but most closely related to the BCS
phytoplasma. Since then, a banana wilt due to the same or a closely
related phytoplasma or strain was also reported from Solomon Islands
(see links below). Recently, the new taxon _Candidatus_ Phytoplasma
noviguineense has been suggested, to include the BCS phytoplasma as
well as the closely related pathogens associated with banana wilt and
arecanut yellow leaf diseases in the region.

Our grateful thanks are due to Dr R Davis, Australian Department of
Agriculture and Water Resources, for providing the following
additional information and background:
Discussions are still ongoing as to the exact relationship between the
different phytoplasmas. Some very significant pathological differences
between areas have been observed. For example, banana plants and
coconut palms are both dying in Madang Province but elsewhere only the
bananas are affected. Preliminary phylogenetic trees clearly separate
the coconut and banana phytoplasmas of Madang Province from banana
phytoplasmas of Western Province in PNG and from those in the Solomon
Islands archipelago.
There is concern that diagnostic techniques used for current surveys
may not be suitable or sensitive enough to detect minor differences in
pathogen sequences and so to distinguish between strains/species. It
has been shown previously that changes in single or very few
nucleotides may affect pathogenicity and host range of viruses and
viroids (e.g. coconut cadang-cadang viroid), and this is likely to be
the case also for phytoplasmas and other pathogens.
Very little is known so far about epidemiology of the new
phytoplasmas. Several insect vectors have been identified, but it
remains to be clarified whether they can selectively spread certain

Papua New Guinea:
< maps/australia/papua_ newguinea_pol89.jpg>
PNG provinces:
< maps/papua_map.jpg>

Banana phytoplasma wilt symptoms:
< upload/medium/wilt-symptoms- bwap-furan-png.jpg>,
< profile/R_Davis2/publication/ 275251709/figure/fig1/AS: 284284612038658@1444790141515/ Fig-1-External-symptoms-leaf- yellowing-and-leaf-death- associated-with-phytoplasmas- in.png>
< upload/medium/bwap-taman-png. jpg>
Bogia wilt affected coconut grove:

Additional news story:
< pests-continue-thrive-country/ >
Information on banana phytoplasma wilt:
< blogpost229-A-new-disease-of- banana>,
< article/10.1007/s13314-012- 0056-8> (PNG)
< article/10.1007/s13314-015- 0163-4> (Solomon
Information on Bogia coconut syndrome:
< article.php?id=023009> (including phylogeny),
< diseases-hit-madang.html>,
< sheets/coconut_bogia_disease_ 229.pdf>,
< SummariesofMessages/Crops/ Plantationcrops/ Coconutoilpalm/ VirusesPhytoplasmas/ Bogiacoconutsyndrome, PapuaNewGuinea.aspx>
and via
< Publication/Newsletter%20Vol1% 20Issue%201.pdf>
(with photo)
Threat of BCS to coconut gene bank:
< south-east-asia/news/south- pacific-coconut-gene-bank- under-threat.html>,
< ?articles.view/articleNo/ 33247/title/Coconut-Gene-Bank- Threatened/>
< 11/coconut-plan-b-needed/>
Lethal yellowing information:
< 3/develop/dev05.html> and
< symptoms/factsheet.php?name= Lethal+Yellowing>
Taxonomic comparison of banana and palm phytoplasmas:
< pubmed/29134937> and via
<http://onlinelibrary.wiley. com/doi/10.2903/j.efsa.2017. 5028/full>
Taxonomy of phytoplasma subgroups, species and strains via:
< taxonomy/33926>
Phytoplasma resource centre:
<>. - Mod.DHA]

[See Also:
Coconut wilt-related phytoplasma, cassava - Cote d'Ivoire: 1st rep
(LN) 20170713.5168553
Phytoplasma diseases, coconut palm - Cote d'Ivoire, Papua New Guinea 20130614.1770603
Bogia syndrome, coconut - Papua New Guinea: (MD) quarantine 20120405.1090762
Lethal yellowing, coconut palm - Papua NG, Mexico: new phytoplasmas 20110223.0592]
.............................. dk
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Hello Graham and Pestnet readers,

The Solomon story can be found in one of the many links provided below by ProMED:

<> (Solomon

A casual read of some of the very recent literature and news reports surrounding these issues can leave people a bit confused as to what disease occurs where.

I would therefore like to take this opportunity to emphasise:

The coconut disease is confined to Madang Province in PNG, -but it is on the move!

The banana disease is more widespread, -though patchy.

In Solomon Islands, the country, the banana disease appears to be a recent incursion. It was found by a joint Biosecurity Solomon Islands / Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources plant health survey that I took part in. It was on one of the islands in the Shortlands Islands group, right next door to Bougainville island. When we discovered it, we were told by the growers that this had been an ongoing problem, -since some cooking banana planting material had been imported to the island from Bougainville.

This reinforces the very important message about the extreme danger, in our part of the world these days, of moving banana suckers around.

This is just one of the diseases to be scared of, -there are more.



Richard Davis
Plant pathologist   |   Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy   |   Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
Phone +61 7 42417814    |   Fax +61 7 42417845  |   Mobile +61 417444677
PO Box 96, Cairns International Airport, QLD 4870 Australia

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