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Frosty Pod Rot and Witches' Broom

Frosty pod or Moniliophthora roreri

Moniliasis or frosty pod (Moniliophthora roreri) and witches' broom (Crinipellis perniciosa) cause estimated losses of 5% and 21% respectively in global cocoa production annually. On individual farms, up to 100% of a farmer's crop can be lost in any one year and this has led to many farmers abandoning their cocoa farms. The use of conventional chemical (copper fungicides) and cultural control techniques (phytosanitary pruning) have failed to halt the progress of these diseases. CABI scientists, Drs. Harry Evans and Keith Holmes are studying endophytes (mutualistic symbionts) that have the potential to protect their host plants through multiple mechanisms: competitive exclusion; induced resistance; antagonism or mycoparasitism. Dr. Ulrike Krauss and her team based in Costa Rica investigate the exploitation of mycoparasites/antagonists to reduce inoculum pressure of M.roreri . Both approaches are being pursued using the principles of classical biological control. Classical biological control involves returning to the centre of origin of the target pest organism to find natural enemies, in this case mycoparasites/antagonists, which have co-evolved with it.

In addition, molecular studies of the M.roreri population are being undertaken (Drs. Krauss, Evans, Mr. Phillips) to explain the spread of the pathogen and identify its origin as well determine which isolates are suitable for screening germplasm for resistance. Also, Dr. Bateman is conducting trials in Central and South America in an effort to make the application of biological and chemical preparations more effective in controlling these diseases.

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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