A serious pathogen that has restricted cocao production in Africa, notably Ghana and Nigeria, has become the latest target by researchers looking to eliminate common viruses that destroy valuable crops.
The Cacao swollen shoot virus (CSSV) has been a difficult foe to counter for farmers in the region, as it spreads quickly among cocao crops and has resistance to multiple pesticides. Researchers assessed the effectiveness of a process known as somatic embryogenesis to create virus-free clones of the cocao crops that farmers could replant in order to allow the safe exchange of virus-free germplasm.
Advanced methods involving Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) screening were utilized in order to detect CSSV even before symptoms of infection on the freshly replanted cocao plants became visible. The results of the study showed success in detecting CSSV in 37 out of 56 of its various trains. The study concluded that somatic embryogenesis is effective in controlling the propagation of CSSV via viral elimination over a wide range of its genotypes. Furthermore, the researchers were able to identify specific, predictable patterns in the virus that could be used to detect it at an early stage of infection.
Hopefully soon these results could be transferred into the field to help farmers eliminate CSSV, and increase the yield of cocao crops in Africa.
Study Source: Journal of Plant Sciences