Sandalwood Spike disease: ‘Invisible’ disease wreaks havoc on commercial sandalwood cultivation

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Source: The post is based on the article “Invisible disease wreaks havoc on commercial sandalwood cultivation” published in PIB on 25th October 2022

What is the News?

A study has shown that Sandalwood Spike Disease(SSD) is posing a severe threat on the Commercial Cultivation of Sandalwood.

What is Sandalwood Spike disease?

Sandalwood Spike disease is a major infectious disease of Sandalwood trees.

Transmission: The disease can transmit through seeds of infected trees through the presence of disease-causing bacteria called Phytoplasma.

Note: Phytoplasmas are bacterial parasites of plant tissues — which are transmitted by insect vectors and involved in plant-to-plant transmission.

Origin: The disease was first reported in Kodagu, Karnataka in 1899. More than a million sandalwood trees were removed in the Kodagu and Mysore region between 1903 and 1916.

Treatment: There is no cure as of now for the disease. Hence, presently, there is no option but to cut down and remove the infected tree to prevent the spread of the disease.

Concerns: About 1% to 5% of sandalwood trees are lost every year due to the disease. Scientists warn that it could wipe out the entire natural Sandalwood population if measures are not taken to prevent its spread.

Measures taken: To combat the Sandalwood Spike disease, the Institute of Wood Science and Technology(IWST), Bangalore has joined hands with the Pune-based National Centre for Cell Sciences for a three-year study.

– This study has recommended accreditation of commercial production of sandalwood seedlings through testing to ensure that the plants are free from SSD. It has also called for a paradigm shift in policies handling sandalwood seedlings.

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