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City lab sets up tissue culture unit to curb oily spot in pomegranates

In an attempt to tackle the oily spot disease in pomegranates,the biotechnology laboratory of the College of Agriculture,Pune,has come up with a tissue culture unit.

Written by Pupul Chaterjee | Pune |
March 9, 2011 4:42:27 am

In an attempt to tackle the oily spot disease in pomegranates,the biotechnology laboratory of the College of Agriculture,Pune,has come up with a tissue culture unit. The unit will work towards eliminating primary infection of the seedlings produced in the laboratory. The disease affects nearly 70 per cent of the crops produced in Maharashtra.

Pomegranate plants cultivated on a total of 97,000 hectares— around 40,000 hecatres in Nashik and 30,000 hectares in Solapur,and a substantial portion at Ahmednagar as well as Sangli—are affected by the diesease. The symptoms include spots like oil marks on the rind of fruits,leaves,and cankers on stem,branches and trunk. The disease spoils internal parts of fruits also,leaving them non-edible.

“The seedlings developed through tissue culture can ensure that the plant does not have primary infection,i.e. the basic plant material can be free of infection. However,care needs to be taken to prevent secondary infection also. Regular spraying at not just a farmer’s own farm,but also neighbouring areas is needed since oily spot diesease spreads very rapidly,” RM Naik,in-charge of biotechnology laboratory,told Pune Newsline.

Naik also said the major challenge is it is relatively new,(and has been identified in 1998) and the lifecycle of the disease and various aspects are yet to be known. The tissue culture unit at the college was started in May 2010,after which many culture media and hormones were tried. In the next two months,the seedlings prepared in the culture will undergo the hardening process under polyhouse conditions

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The plants are expected to be field-ready after this process. However,VT Jadhav,director of National Research Centre (NRC) for Pomegranates,Solapur,is of the view that the tissue culture project will be successful only in areas that have previously not been affected by the diesease. “The Xanthomonas bacteria that is responsible for the disease survives even in the plant debris that remain in the soil and survives for up to eight months. As soon as it rains or other favourable conditions develop,the disease spreads. Hence,creating awareness on soil sanitary conditions need to be the top most priority to prevent the disease,”said Jadhav.

Jadhav also said farmers also need to be made aware about choosing appropriate time for the cultivation of the crop. “While pomegranate is capable of flowering and fruiting throughout the year,the best time for its cultivation is the post-monsoon period,around October. So the chances for infection are minimised.”

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