Banana, a major staple in East and Central Africa is constrained by banana Xanthomonas wilt (BXW) caused by Xanthomonas campestris pv. musacearum (Xcm). Xcm-infected plants are rapidly destroyed leading to 100% yield loss. Cultural controls are effective but laborious attracting laxity among farmers. This has led to epidemic resurgence in areas where BXW had been contained hence spread to new regions. Reliable control option would be planting Xcm-resistant varieties but extensive germplasm evaluation for their identification has not been conducted. Objective therefore was to determine existence of Xcm-resistance in banana by evaluating major banana cloneset representatives among indigenous cultivars plus introduced foreign Musa accessions. Potted plants were artificially inoculated with 0.5 ml (108CFU) of Xcm suspension. Promising selections from pot trial were later evaluated under natural transmission in field. Field trial plants were infected via insect vectors from spreader plants of highly susceptible cv Kayinja infected by spraying flowers with Xcm. Severity of Xcm-infection was semi-quantified using scales 1-5 and 0-5 for pot and field screening trials respectively. This enabled calculation of disease index as a measure of resistance for each genotype. High index implied highly susceptible banana genotype and low index resistant genotype. Findings 44 days after artificial inoculation showed wild banana M. balbisiana had 0.0 disease index thus highly resistant. All other banana genotypes tested under similar conditions had disease index of 100 thus susceptible. In field (insect vector transmission), disease index varied significantly among various genotypes evaluated, some susceptible while others; M. balbisiana, Mbwazirume, M9 and M. Zebrina resistant throughout 360 days of observation. We recommend that heritable traits that confer resistance in M. balbisiana, Mbwazirume, M9 and M. zebrina to Xcm be identified for utilization in genetic modification of farmer preferred bananas. Varieties Mbwazirume and M9 should be promoted for farmer growing to complement cultural controls against BXW.
Key words: Xanthomonas campestris pv. musacearum, banana Xanthomonas wilt, banana.
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