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Banana <i> Xanthomonas</i> wilt in Ethiopia: Occurrence and insect vector transmission

D Ahimelash
T Alemu
T Addis
L Turyagyenda
G Blomme


Bacterial wilt caused by Xanthomonas vasicola pv. musacearum (Xvm) is an important disease of enset and banana in south and south-western Ethiopia where, the diversity of the insect fauna on banana inflorescences was unknown and the role of insects as vectors of the disease had not been studied. The objectives of this study were
to assess the occurrence of bacterial wilt and male bud infection, the diversity of insect families in banana plantations and the presence of the bacteria on insects collected from diseased inflorescences in south and southwestern Ethiopia. Surveys were carried out and insects were collected from three different zones in 2005. The diversity and richness of the insect families was assessed across sites and genotypes and comparisons were made using the Shannon Diversity Index and the Jack knife estimator, respectively. Correlations were made between
the abundance and incidence of insects with the incidence of male bud infection on ‘Pisang Awak’ plants. A wide range of insect families were recorded and they varied according to banana genotype and altitude. The Drosophilidae and Apinae families were most frequently recorded across sites and genotypes. The ‘Wendo’ variety (AAA
Cavendish group) had the highest diversity and richness of insect families within and across sites. In contrast to the Kembata Tembaro and Bench Maji zones, severe and widespread male bud infection of banana was found in Kaffa, where there was a high diversity of insects on the ‘Pisang Awak’ and ‘Abesha muz’ plants. The incidence
of male bud infection on ‘Pisang Awak’ plants was highly correlated with the incidence of insects (R2 = 0.964). The incidence of male bud infection however depends on the floral morphology and altitude. Artificial inoculation with Xvm ooze on fresh male bract and flower scars resulted in infections on ‘Pisang Awak’ and ‘Abesha muz’ plants, but the ‘Dwarf Cavendish’ plants with persistent bracts and flowers remained healthy. Few male bud infections were observed at altitudes above 1,700 masl. Xvm was isolated from Apinae, Lonchaeidae, Muscidae,
Tephritidae and Vespidae insect families. Lonchaeidae (Silba spp.) were frequently observed on banana bract and flower scars and could thus be an important insect vector of Xvm in Ethiopia.
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eISSN: 2072-6589
print ISSN: 1021-9730