Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Curse Of Witches Brooms Disease Raises Fears For World Chocolate Production

25.06.2004


UK scientists are warning that world chocolate production could fall dramatically if diseases, which have devastated South American cultivation of cacao over the past 15 years (the raw material used for producing chocolate), were to spread to some of the world’s other cacao producing regions.

Writing in the Summer 2004 edition of Biologist, Dr Gareth Griffith of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth warns that increased trade and improved transport links between South America and other cacao growing countries could allow fungal infections such as Witches’ Broom Disease and Frosty Pod Disease to spread to these hitherto uninfected areas. Alone and in combination these diseases can cause near total crop failure.

The recent spread of other fungal pathogens such as sudden oak death (caused by Phytophthora ramorum) highlights the fact that global trade is not risk-free. Formal risk assessments need to be conducted to minimise the spread of plant pathogens.



Whilst chocolate lovers around the world may despair at the prospect, the effect of the diseases on the cacao growing communities themselves has been devastating. According to Dr Griffiths, accidental assistance from humans has been instrumental in the spread of the disease around South America. The rapid spread of the disease from Surinam to Ecuador and Trinidad in the early 20th century was probably due to transport of superficially healthy but infected cacao pods. In each of these countries arrival of the disease led to a halving of cocoa production within a decade.

“In the 1970s, extensive deforestation and oil exploration in Amazonian Ecuador, encouraged farmers to migrate across the Andes, bringing the disease with them.,. Similar developments in Brazil led to the establishment of cacao plantations in Amazonia and the inevitable occurrence of the disease. Disastrously, expertise in cacao cultivation for these new plantations was imported from the main Brazilian cocoa area in Bahia on the Atlantic coast and, ultimately the disease spread to Bahia by these migrating workers” said Dr Griffith.

“In Bahia, where the first incidence of the disease was observed in 1989, the ravages of WBD have been worse than in any of the other infected regions. A large area centred upon the town of Ilheus, which was built on the wealth of cacao plantations, has suffered economic devastation. It is estimated that 200,000 people were put out of work, with a further two million people being indirectly affected. Knock on effects have included a soaring crime rate and extensive rural depopulation, though in recent years there are some signs of recovery due to the planting of more tolerant cacao varieties.”

“The great fear is that improved travel links, especially direct air and sea travel between tropical countries by both people and cargo, could lead to the spread of Witches Broom Disease to countries such as the Ghana where cacao generates a large proportion of national GDP. We need to learn from past mistakes” he added.

Witches’ Brooms Disease is so named because the growing parts of the cacao tree become swollen and branched, giving the appearance of a witches broom. It is caused by the pathogen Crinipellis perniciosa, and despite a century of research, no truly effective control strategy has been devised.

Arthur Dafis | alfa
Further information:
http://www.aber.ac.uk

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Kakao in Monokultur verträgt Trockenheit besser als Kakao in Mischsystemen
18.09.2017 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

nachricht Ultrasound sensors make forage harvesters more reliable
28.08.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The fastest light-driven current source

Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.

Graphene is up to the job

Im Focus: LaserTAB: More efficient and precise contacts thanks to human-robot collaboration

At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.

Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nerves control the body’s bacterial community

26.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Four elements make 2-D optical platform

26.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Goodbye, login. Hello, heart scan

26.09.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>