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      Achieving sustainable cultivation of bananas Volume 3 : Diseases and pests 

      Phytoplasma diseases of banana plants

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          Abstract

          Phytoplasmas are obligatory bacteria associated with diseases in over 1,000 plant species, which live in phloem tissues and are transmitted between plants by sap-sucking insects. Phytoplasmas have been recorded from banana plants in different parts of the world, but they are still considered a pathogen of minor importance in most banana producing countries. However, an emerging phytoplasma-associated disease is devastating banana production in regions of Papua New Guinea (PNG). Surveillance data shows it is spreading within the country and has reached the neighbouring country of Solomon Islands. This chapter describes the main characteristics of phytoplasmas, the disease cycle, symptoms, epidemiology, and available diagnostic methods. The latest information on diversity, occurrence, impact, and management is provided for banana phytoplasmas occurring in PNG and Solomon Islands, known collectively as banana wilt associated phytoplasmas (BWAP). The chapter also highlights hurdles encountered for disease management and suggest possible strategies to prevent further losses.

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