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Cocoa Wilt

Die back, or sudden death of Theobroma cacao, caused by Verticillium dahliae is an increasingly serious problem in the states of Bahia and Espirito Santo in Brazil and has been reported in Colombia. This disease was responsible for the failure of widespread cocoa cultivation in Uganda in the 1960s.

Chemical control of Verticillium wilt of cocoa is not effective as the pathogen is soil borne and the host a perennial crop; breeding for resistance is the only realistic means of durable disease control. In conjunction with Brazilian scientists, Dr. Flood helped develop a rapid screening technique to help screen thousands of cocoa accessions for resistance to this disease. Resistance of the host was linked to the production of 4 antifungal coumpounds of which, the most unusual was elemental sulphur that accumulated in xylem parenchyma and in gels within the affected xylem vessels. The origin of this sulphur remains unclear. Isolates of the pathogen from cocoa were able to infect common weeds found in Brazilian plantations and often, the weeds remained symptomless, illustrating their potential as alternative hosts for this pathogen.

 
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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