About Banana Wilt

Xanthomonas wilt of banana from ProMusa Video Bank on Vimeo.


bxw-posterBanana bacterial wilt (BBW), also known as BXW (Xanthomonas wilt of banana), is a bacterial disorder caused by a devastating species of bacteria named Xanthomonas campestris. BBW originated in Ethiopia where the bacteria was first found on ensete (E. ventricosum) in the 1960s. The wilting disorder spread to Uganda in 2001, and was first noted when an unknown wilting disorder was reportedly affecting production of banana (Musa sp.). The wilt was characterized by quickly spreading yellowing and wilting of the younger leaves, internal vascular vessels with discoloration, and the occasional dieback beginning with the male floral parts and banana fruits rotting from the inside[1]. Quickly following its introduction in Uganda, BBW was reported in many other countries in central Africa, first noted in Democratic Republic of Congo, then Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi, and Kenya[2].

The wilting disorder is capable of spreading very quickly because it can be transferred in the sap from an infected plant. If a farmer uses a cutting tool like a machete on many plants in between sanitizing the tool, the bacteria can spread as the sap is transferred from plant to plant. Additionally insects that pierce cells of an infected plant or even pollinating insects that visit flowers of an infected banana can carry the infection when they move to a healthy plant. The third most common mode of spread is in suckers used to replant a grove that were collected from infected plants that were not yet showing symptoms of BBW[3].

While no resistant varieties of banana have been identified and chemicals cannot be used to control the disorder, some cultivars are more naturally inclined to escape infection. Although, even these varieties can be infected by contaminated tools. However, there are several cultivation techniques that will slow the spread of the wilt including de-budding, ensuring tools are sanitized regularly, and using clean sucker cuttings for transplanting. Looking forward, overcoming BBW may be possible as there is also progress on the path towards developing a resistant variety using both traditional plant breeding and transgenic approaches[4].

[1] Tushemereirwe, W., A. Kangire, F. Ssekiwoko, L. C. Offord, J. Crozier, E. Boa, M. Rutherford, and J. J. Smith. “First Report of Xanthomonas Campestris Pv. Musacearum on Banana in Uganda.” Plant Pathology 53, no. 6 (2004): 802–802. Web. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-3059.2004.01090.x/abstract.

[2] Mbaka, J. N., V. G. Nakato, J. Auma, and B. Odero. “Status of Banana Xanthomonas Wilt in Western Kenya and Factors Enhancing Its Spread.” 673–76. African Crop Science Society, 2009. Web. http://www.cabi.org/cabdirect/FullTextPDF/2013/20133232528.pdf.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Biruma, M., M. Pillay, L. Tripathi, G. Blomme, S. Abele, M. Mwangi, R. Bandyopadhyay, et al. “Banana Xanthomonas Wilt: A Review of the Disease, Management Strategies and Future Research Directions.” African Journal of Biotechnology 6, no. 8 (2007). http://www.ajol.info/index.php/ajb/article/view/56989.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: