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Black pod disease (Phytophthora spp)
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Black Pod Disease

Phytophthora pod rot, commonly known as "black pod" disease is found in all cocoa regions of the world and causes an estimated 44% of the total global crop loss in cocoa every year. A number of Phytophthora species are known to cause black pod disease including P.palmivora, P.megakarya, P capsici, P citrophthora . Of these, P. megakarya is only found in West Africa where over 52% of cocoa is produced. P. megakarya is the most apgressive species - causing 100% losses in some areas.

Control of black pod depends on several factors such as climatic conditions , which species of the pathogen are present in the locality and if the affected trees are growing on plantations or on small holder blocks. The various methods can be categorized as cultural, chemical , biological and the use of resistance /tolerant varieties. Cultural control aims to reduce the humidity thus discouraging infection and reducing source of inoculum such as diseased pods. Chemical control involves the use of fungicides - copper compounds have been used for number of years but their use has environmental and health implications and better application methods are being trialled in Central America. Latterly, systemic compounds have been shown to be more effective and CABI scientists (Drs. Holderness and Holmes) are involved in studying these systemic compounds and their mode of action in cocoa in Ghana. Biological control - the use of antagonists being studied by CABI scientists in West Africa and in South and Central America.

Developing genetic resistance against the black pod pathogens is essential but these studies can be constrained by inaccurate identification of the pathogen and lack of understanding of the variation within the pathogen population and hence, which isolates to use to screen the germplasm. A comprehensive study of morphological and molecular characteristics (Mr Appiah, Dr. Flood and collaborators) have identified markers to allow rapid identification of isolates of Phytopthora.

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Contact CABI Commodities:
CABI Commodities Coffee Co-ordinator - Dr. Peter Baker - p.baker@cabi.org
CABI Commodities Cocoa Co-ordinator - Dr. J. Flood - j.flood@cabi.org
CABI Commodities Project Administrator - cabi-commodities@cabi.org