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Biotechnological Strategies for Control of Banana Xanthomonas Wilt Disease

Leena Tripathi: International Institute for Tropical Agriculture

<div>Banana Xanthomonas wilt (BXW), caused by the bacterium <em>Xanthomonas campestris</em> pv.<em> musacearum</em>, is one of the most important diseases and considered as the biggest threat to banana production in east Africa. The disease affects almost all commonly grown banana cultivars. Economic losses of about $2-8 billion have been reported over a decade in the east Africa. The disease starts with wilting of leaves or male bud and premature ripening of fruits leading to death of plant, rotting of fruits, and in severe cases, complete loss of plantation. Its rapid spread has endangered livelihood of millions of farmers, who rely on banana for food and income. Management of the BXW disease is a challenge due to continuous association of host and inoculum over a long period of time. BXW disease can be managed by following cultural practices such as cutting and burying of infected plants, restricting the movement of bananas planting materials from BXW affected to disease free areas, removal of male buds and the use of clean farming tools. Currently, there are no commercial chemicals, biocontrol agents or resistant cultivars available to control the pathogen. In the absence of known natural host plant resistance among banana cultivars, genetic engineering provides a cost-effective alternative technique to develop Xanthomonas wilt resistant banana varieties. Host plant resistance against pathogens can be enhanced by expressing resistance (R) genes, antimicrobial genes, or defense genes. The progress in developing transgenic banana resistant to BXW disease will be presented.</div>

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