Athelia rolfsii (= Sclerotium rolfsii) infects banana in the Philippines
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We surveyed eight banana farms planted with cultivar “Lakatan” in Central Visayas, Philippines, for fungal diseases in 2014. A rotting disease on the corm and leaf sheaths, splitting of the pseudostem and yellowing of the leaves were observed only in Toledo City, Cebu province. These symptoms were associated with sclerotial bodies and mycelial growth. The causal organism was identified by morphology and ITS sequence as Athelia rolfsii (= Sclerotium rolfsii) which is the first report of this fungal pathogen on banana from the Philippines.
KeywordsBanana Control of spread Fungal disease Identification
Banana (Musa sp.) is the leading fresh fruit in the Philippines and eighth most important food crop in the world, fourth in developed countries and fourth most important global food crop grown in more than 120 countries (FAO Report 2003; Anon 2016) and staple food for more than 400 million people (Swennen et al. 1995).
As a banana exporting country, Filipino farmers need to be aware of this newly reported disease that can be easily disseminated by infected banana plantlets due to the soil-borne nature of A. rolfsii. With reports of the devastation of the disease in enset in an experimental station in Ethiopia (Jones 2019) and in different banana growing states in India (Thangavelu and Mustaffa 2010), it could also have serious implications on the Philippine banana export industry. So far, no spread of the disease to adjacent areas has been observed, but the incidence has been reported both during wet and dry season. To further help contain the disease, a resistant banana cultivar “Cardaba” has been planted around the Sclerotium infested area.
The authors would like to thank the Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), Philippines for funding and support.
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