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A Review of Fusarium Wilt of Oil Palm Caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. elaeidis

June 2006 , Volume 96 , Number  6
Pages  660 - 662

Julie Flood

CABI Bioscience (UKC), Bakeham Lane, Egham, Surrey, UK

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Accepted for publication 12 January 2006.

Vascular wilt is the most destructive disease of oil palm in Africa and causes severe losses in some areas. Symptoms include initial wilting followed by desiccation of the fronds, which finally break and hang around the trunk. Internally, characteristic browning of the vascular elements is seen both in adult palms and in seedlings. Two disease syndromes are commonly seen in the field in adult palms—“acute wilt” where the palm dies within a few weeks and “chronic wilt” where the palm may remain alive for many months and even years but becomes progressively stunted. The pathogen (Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. elaeidis) is a soilborne fungus and the perennial nature of the crop ensured that, in the past, disease management was difficult. Over a period of 30 to 40 years, screening for resistance at the nursery stage was introduced in many plantations and research stations, and successful breeding programs in West Africa, notably in Ivory Coast, have resulted in more resistant oil palm material becoming available. The disease has not yet been detected in South East Asia (largest producer of palm oil) and rigorous quarantine measures have been imposed to prevent introduction of the pathogen into these highly productive areas.

© 2006 The American Phytopathological Society