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Banana bunchy top virus

Preferred Scientific Name: Banana bunchy top virus

It was first identified in Fiji in 1889, and has spread around the world since then. Like many viruses, BBTV was named after the symptoms seen; where the infected plants are stunted and have 'bunchy' leaves at the top. The disease is transmitted from plant-to-plant in tropical regions of the world by banana aphids.

Banana bunchy top virus
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Why is it a problem?

BBTV is the most serious virus disease of bananas and plantains; it has been attributed to a 95% reduction in banana productivity in some affected areas.

Recently, it has been shown that the virus has been decimating the banana industry in Pakistan. In the early 1990’s, banana cultivation fell by 55% in one year. 

Impacts

  • Reduces crop yields
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods

What’s the solution?

Regulatory control

BBTV has not been eradicated from any country where it occurs, but it is believed to have been eliminated from certain banana-growing districts in Australia. The disease is kept in check by strict state government legislation which controls the source and movement of planting material, controls the issue of planting permits and requires the destruction of feral plants and all plants with symptoms.

Chemical control

Aphicides have been used in some countries to control populations of Pentalonia nigronervosa, the aphid vector of bunchy top, and a decrease in disease incidence has been reported. In Tonga, Aphidius colemani, a parasitic wasp, has been released in an attempt at biological control of the aphid vector, but its effects on disease incidence have been disappointing.

Cultural control

Banana bunchy top disease can be effectively controlled by eradicating diseased plants and the use of virus-tested planting material. Before destruction, diseased plants should be sprayed with insecticide to kill all any aphids. The entire plant must then be destroyed, by uprooting and chopping into small pieces or by herbicide treatment.

Fact file

Name Banana bunchy top virus

Distribution

Africa, Asia, North & South America and Oceania

For more information on distribution, view the full datasheet available here

Habitat

Banana plantations

Natural enemies

N/A

Invasiveness

Spreads rapidly

Likelihood of entry

Spread by aphid vector and transportation of infected plants

Climate

Tropical

Disease Type

Virus

Further reading

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