Los Baños, Laguna―A less-studied but major constraint on banana production, banana bract mosaic disease (BBrMD), will now be researched through a program funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD).
The program, “Banana Bract Mosaic Disease in the Philippines: Geographic Distribution, Yield Loss Assessment, Virus Elimination, and Evaluation of Germplasm Collection,” will be implemented by experts and researchers from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).
According to a report relayed to newsmen by Kristine Joy B. Panaligan of PCAARRD Media Services, experts said BBrMD is caused by banana bract mosaic virus (BBrMV) more common in Saba and Cardaba bananas but can also infect the Cavendish variety in the Philippines.
The disease causes mosaic patterns, discoloration, streaks on different parts of banana plant – bract, pseudostem, and leaf. Severe infection may lead to failure of flowering and 40 to 70 percent yield reduction.
Despite its damaging impact to banana production, there is very limited information on the virus, its extent of infection in the country, and control.
Currently, no synthetic chemicals and proper management practices are in place to control the disease. There are also minimal BBrMV-free planting materials available to banana farmers, relayed Panaligan.
The program, which is expected to address the research gaps on the banana disease, has four components.
It aims to detect and analyze genetic diversity of BBrMV, assess yield loss and nutrient management, eliminate virus and produce BBrMV-free planting materials, and study the sources and mechanism of resistance to BBrMD.
Incidence and distribution maps of BBrMV in the Philippines and information on genetic relationships of BBrMV isolates, alternative hosts, yield loss data on different banana cultivars, nutrient management regime for BBrMD mitigation, and BBrMV-resistant banana genotypes are some of the target outputs, Panaligan said.
Technologies such as protocols on BBrMV detection and elimination, and improved micropropagation of BBrMV-free Saba are also expected to be developed.
BBrMV detection procedures that will be optimized by the program team can also be used by banana tissue culture laboratories in detecting the disease in asymptomatic plants.
The new knowledge and technologies will assist plant breeders in developing BBrMD-resistant varieties, Panaligan said.