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Banana blood disease

Scientific Name
Blood disease bacterium
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Diagnostic Notes

Blood disease is a wilt caused by a bacterium that invades the vascular tissues. The name blood disease was originally adopted because droplets of a thick milky white, yellow or red-brown liquid often ooze out of the vascular tissues of infected plants at cut surfaces. The disease affects cultivars of both AAA and ABB genomic groups.

Gäuman (1921, 1923) found that the bacteria can survive for over a year in soil infested by decaying diseased plant tissues and can infect the banana plant through wounds on suckers, pseudostem and fruits. The sequence of symptoms depends on the route of infection and the growth stage of the plant. There is evidence that this disease is probably transmitted by insects visiting the male flowers. The cultivar Pisang Kepok (ABB group) in Indonesia is thought to be highly susceptible because the male flower nectar has high sugar content, making it particularly attractive to insects that spread the bacterium from male bud to male bud. Following this route of infection, blackening and shrivelling of male flowers is frequently found. Then, the bacteria move into the fruit and cause a reddish dry rot of the pulp. Afterwards the bacteria move down into the pseudostem towards the suckers. As the disease progress all leaves became gradually yellow and necrotic (Stover & Espinoza 1992), then wilt, collapse and hang down. Red to brown necrotic marks are seen towards the centre of the pseudostem and/or peduncle when cut transversely. The male bud below the fruit may ooze droplets, especially from flower and bract scars in those genotypes that shed flowers and bracts. This is thought to be one reason why certain ABB cultivars are much more susceptible to infection than other bananas (Davis et al. 2001). An additional symptom may occur on ABB cultivars. Instead of successively abscising, many bracts on the male buds remain on the peduncle, giving a clumped appearance. Daughter suckers may show general wilting, but infection is not always systemic and healthy suckers are sometimes produced (Eden-Green 1994).

A very common symptom is a red brown dry shrivelled pulp in unripe fruits that look outwardly green and healthy. After some time, this is seen in every fruit of the bunch. The external symptoms usually develop at the beginning of ripening, when the fruits turn yellow or brown, collapse and decay (Gäuman 1921, 1923). Gäuman also observed the fruit flesh may be gradually dissolved and the cavity thus formed is filled to the base of the fruit with slimy, brownish-red fluid containing innumerable bacteria. The fruits finally collapse and decay into a rotten mass.

The bacteria:

Banana blood disease was reported by Gäuman (1921) from Sulawesi Island (Celebes), Indonesia, and afterwards the pathogen was described as Pseudomonas celebensis (Gäuman 1923).

Between 1960 and 1980, considerable problems about taxonomy of bacteria arose because a very large percentage of the more than 22,000 published names of bacteria could not be used, due to lack of good descriptions and type cultures. In the 1970s, when bacteriologists agreed to make a new start in bacteriological nomenclature, only 2,336 names were retained in the “Approved lists of bacterial names, 1980” of the International Committee on Systematic Bacteriology. Names not on these lists lost standing in nomenclature. The other ones were considered invalid names because it was impossible to tell exactly what bacteria they referred to (Skerman et al. 1980, Sneath 2003, Euzeby 2003). Whereas the original description of P. celebensis was incomplete, none of the original isolates collected by Gäumann exist any longer (ISPP 2006) and no new sightings of this disease, which was confined in Sulawesi, had been reported until the 1990s (Eden-Green & Sastraatmadja 1990), blood disease was considered as an anomalous appearance of moko disease (Thwaites et al. 2000) and the name P. celebensis was excluded from the “approved lists of bacterial names”.
More Information
Specimen Contact
Dr José R. Liberato
Davis RI & Liberato JR
23/05/2006 09:36 AEST
Last Updated
15/07/2016 23:37 AEST
Davis RI & Liberato JR (2006) Banana blood disease (Blood disease bacterium ) Updated on 7/15/2016 11:37:53 PM Available online: PaDIL -
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