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A control package revolving around the removal of single diseased banana stems is effective for the restoration of Xanthomonas wilt infected fields


Xanthomonas campestris pv. musacearum, the causal agent of Xanthomonas wilt of banana (XW), does not infect or cause symptom development in all physically attached shoots in an infected mat. Incomplete/partial systemicity and latent infections often occur. The single diseased stem removal (SDSR, the removal of only symptomatic plants) technique depends on these observations. The SDSR technique, as an alternative or complementary practice to complete mat uprooting (CMU) for XW control, was evaluated at eight XW pilot sites in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo as a novel control option. This technique is low-cost, simple and easily applicable. Within one month, XW plant incidence at the experimental sites declined to below 10%, while within three and 10 months declined to below 2% and 1%, respectively. Restoration of banana plots was observed even in plots that initially had over 80% plant disease incidence. CMU removes a larger portion of the inoculum in a field but is very tedious, time consuming and costly in terms of labour and lost production, due to the premature cutting of symptomless plants that potentially could bear a bunch. CMU can potentially prevent further spread when XW appears for the first time on a farm or location. The choice of CMU relative to SDSR also depends largely on farming objectives. CMU can be carried out in intensive and market-oriented production systems, whose ultimate target is eradication, for example, in South-Western Uganda. In contrast, SDSR is more appealing to subsistence-oriented production, such as in eastern DR Congo, Burundi or central Uganda, whose target is more oriented towards management/control. SDSR can be suggested where access to clean planting material is difficult, thus could be recommended to a very large percentage of small-scale farmers in the currently affected banana-based production systems in east and central Africa.

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This work was supported by the Directorate General for Development (DGD-Belgium) under grant “Transforming CIALCA into a Humidtropics platform in East and Central Africa – CIALCA+” (D4.33/Jk/MUL. and grant “FAO-Food Security Risks in the Great Lakes Region – Rapid response to the threat of banana diseases” (FAOR/LOA No 003/2014). This study was conducted in partnership with the Institut National pour l’Etude de la Recherche Agronomiques (INERA-Mulungu, South Kivu) and the Université Catholique du Graben (UCG), Butembo, North Kivu. Special thanks goes to David Turner, The University of Western Australia, for editing the manuscript. This work was carried out in the overall framework of the CGIAR research program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas.

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Correspondence to Guy Blomme.

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Blomme, G., Ocimati, W., Sivirihauma, C. et al. A control package revolving around the removal of single diseased banana stems is effective for the restoration of Xanthomonas wilt infected fields. Eur J Plant Pathol 149, 385–400 (2017).

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  • Bacterial wilt of banana
  • Complete mat uprooting
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Disease control
  • Farming objectives
  • Xanthomonas campestris pv. musacearum