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BCS in PNG

Common Name

Bogia coconut syndrome, banana-wilt associated phytoplasma.

Scientific Name

The phytoplasmas associated with coconut and banana in Papua New Guinea have not been given scientific names. However, analysis of ribosomal RNA has found that they are in the phytoplasma group code named 16SrIV.

Distribution

Narrow. The phyoplasma associated with Bogia coconut syndrome has only been found in the Madang Province, Papua New Guinea. The same phytoplasma occurs widely in banana; it has been recorded in the East Sepik, Madang, Morobe, and Western provinces.

Hosts

Coconut, banana and betel nut.

Bogia District

  1. 1980-81- reports of Yaro & Vidaro plantations, Bogia affected.
  2. 2012 Ulingan/Tupira Guesthouse area affected
  3. 2012 Korak was affected

Sumkar District

  1. 2013 Kuseng village
  2. 2013 Mobdub village/near to CCI Murnas
  3. 2017-2018 Katom village, Karkar Island

Madang District

  1. 2009 Furan was affected
  2. 2014 Sagalau, near Madang town
  3. 2015 Gum bridge area to Mambu market, Siar village, Madang
  4. 2016-17 4-Mile market and Vidar/Maivara
  5. 2017-2018 – Rivo village/Jais Aben

The Bogia Coconut Syndrome Experimental Site

The Bogia Coconut Syndrome Experimental Site

The Bogia Coconut Syndrome Experimental Site

The Bogia Coconut Syndrome Experimental Site

The Bogia Coconut Syndrome Experimental Site

Containment

  • Sanitation (cut down & destroy disease palms). Only slows down epidemiology.
  • Sanitation training and awareness done by NAQIA/KIK/Madang DPI in April 2016 (Only in Coconut Gene bank and its buffer zones).
  • Genebank sanitation – weed control, c

Detection & Inspection

Look for coconuts with yellowing, drooping outer leaves, early nutfall, and rapid death (within 3 months). Look for bananas with yellow leaves and vascular tissues with streaks and patches of brown or black rot. Note, that identification of phytoplasmas is based on molecular analysis of ribosomal RNA; the analyses done on banana in Papua New Guinea have found plants with symptoms typical of BWAP containing phytoplasmas closely related to those in coconuts with Bogia syndrome.

Future Work

  • GoPNG to provide funding for
    • Implementing a sanitation program
    • Improving check points at Tapo and various ports
    • Relocating the Coconut Genebank to Punipuni, Milne Bay Provice
  • Regular monitoring and surveillance of BCS in Madang and other provinces in PNG.
  • ACIAR project on insect vectors, develop IPM for BCS

Impact

The disease in coconuts was first reported in 2008 in the Bogia district of Madang Province, hence its common name. It occurs in both newly planted and old palms. To date, many hundreds of palms have been killed and plantations abandoned due to the disease, and the epidemic continues unchallenged. The concern is that is will impact food security and the economic wellbeing of the people in the area as coconut is an important food as well as a traded commodity. Export of copra and coconut oil in Papua New Guinea is worth approximately US$30 million and US$45 million per year, respectively; if the disease were to spread it would have major socio-economic consequences.

The disease threatens the Stewart Research Station of the Cocoa & Coconut Research Institute, Papua New Guinea. The Research Station hosts the International Coconut Genebank for the South Pacific under IPGRI/COGENT and FAO agreements.

Issues & Concerns

  • BCS Containment on sanitation work an enormous task and need resource requirements and support.
  • Research into BCS related areas is slow (takes time) and very expensive.
  • BCS is still spreading to new areas in Madang.
  • Continues BCS Monitoring and Surveillance lacking within, Madang and throughout PNG.
  • Social related studies lacking in BCS.

Management

QUARANTINE

The FAO/IBPGR Technical Guidelines for the Safe Movement of Coconut Germplasm recommend that coconuts should be moved as embryos growing in a tissue culture medium. As a special note, the Guidelines recommend that embryos, seedlings and palms from which pollen is collected should be tested for viroids and Coconut foliar decay virus. If that is not possible, seednuts may be transferred only if they are germinated in intermediate (third country) quarantine, and indexed for viroids and Coconut foliar decay virus. (http://www.bioversityinternational.org/e-library/publications/detail/coconut/.)
In an effort to contain the epidemic of Bogia coconut syndrome in the Madang area, there are restrictions on plant movements from the province.

There are no recommended methods of managing the disease, apart from the embargo on plant movement. The priority is to find out which insects spread the phytoplasma and whether there are coconut varieties that are tolerant or resistant to the disease.

Movement of BCS

• Through use of diseased planting materials – long distance movement
• Insect vectors – re-distribution of BCS locally by infected insects (short distance).

Symptoms & Life Cycle

The symptoms in coconut in Papua New Guinea are similar to those of coconut palms with lethal yellowing disease in many countries worldwide: the outer fronds become pale yellow and droop, nuts drop early, followed by the collapse of all but the spear leaf (Photos 1,2&3). From the time of the first symptoms to death is only 3 months (Photo 4). Although loss of nuts is an early sign of the disease, there is no associated death of the flower bunch (stalk and cluster of flowers) that is a common sign of lethal yellowing disease.

The symptoms in ABB banana varieties differ from those caused by Fusarium wilt (see Fact Sheet no. 176). Leaves turn yellow, but inside the stems there are short brown or black streaks in the vascular areas (water and food conducting tissues) associated with larger areas of wet rot (Photo 5). Bananas with these symptoms contain phytoplasmas that are identical to those found in coconuts. The disease has been given the name banana-wilt associated phytoplasma (BWAP).

Spread of the phytoplasmas in coconut, banana and betel nut is thought to be by insects. Sap-feeding insects that pierce and suck sap from leaves and soft tissues spread similar phytoplasma diseases in other countries. Although the insect that spreads the phytoplasma is not known, interest has centred on Zophiuma pupillata (Hemiptera: Lophopidae), which breeds on coconuts. This insect is common on coconuts and betel nuts, but less so on banana, and phytoplasmas are frequently detected in both adults and nymphs.

Several other insects from different families are also common on coconuts and found to contain phytoplasmas; one of them is a species of Proustia, an insect that is known to spread phytoplasma diseases of coconut (India) and sugarcane (Southeast Asia).

Summary

  • BCS kills 1-2 palms per month
  • BCS is a threat to Coconut Industry
  • BCS impacts livelihood of every day Papua New Guinean and smallholders (and exporters).
  • Host plants – bananas, coconuts & betelnuts
  • Sanitation is a tedious task and needed full resource support
  • Research result slow & expensive

Coconut Industry Threats

• Coconuts do have threats but not too lethal cf. BCS
• BCS is very deadly (like lethal yellowing in other countries) & caused by a phythosplasma
• BCS is only present in Madang based on 2012 survey.
• In a research study done (Furan site, Madang) on the rate of killing, BCS kills1-2 palms per month.
• BCS phytoplasma has 3 confirmed host plants i.e. Banana,
Betelnut and Coconut (Suspected in taro, yams, sago & cassava)
• Within 3 months a palm dies when BCS phytoplasma is present.