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Major viral diseases of sugarcane and their management

B. Parameswari, M. L. Chhabra and M. R. Meena Sugarcane Breeding Institute Regional Centre, Karnal-132001, India Sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum L.) is one of the most important commercial crops accounting for about 72% sugar production in the world. Among the sugarcane growing countries, India ranks as one of the top producers of cane sugar in the world. Sugar cane is cultivated in around 5 million hectares in India and annual production hovers around 280 lakh tones. In India, the crop is grown extensively in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Among several factors responsible for low yield of sugarcane in India damage due to diseases are very important. About 1015% of the nations sugar produced is lost due to diseases. About 55 diseases of sugarcane caused by fungi, bacteria, viruses, phytoplasma and nematodes have been reported from India. Among them, viral diseases have taken a heavy toll of both sugar content and cane yield of sugarcane crop. Although viral diseases do not cause crop loss as in the case of narcotizing fungal pathogens causing red rot and wilt in sugarcane, they responsible for the deterioration/decline of elite sugarcane varieties. Many popular sugarcane varieties like Co 419, Co 740, Co 1148, CoC 671, CoC 92061, CoJ 64, CoS 767, CoS 802 etc. have significantly lost their yield potential due to severe virus infection (Viswanathan and Rao, 2011). The viruses are responsible for the loss of vigor in sugarcane varieties within few years of their cultivation in the field. Around the world, nine viral diseases of sugarcane are reported, out of which Sugarcane mosaic and yellow leaf diseases are of major economic concern in India. Mosaic disease Mosaic disease of sugarcane is caused by Sugarcane mosaic virus (SCMV) and Sugarcane streak mosaic virus (SCSMV). The most common symptoms of the disease are inter veinal chlorotic specks, streaks or stripes especially on young leaves of sugarcane. Generally chlorotic or yellow stripes alternate with the normal green portions of the leaves giving a mosaic pattern. The light green or yellow and chlorotic areas usually have diffused margins, but the response of some cultivars to the virus may result in sharply defined chlorotic areas accompanied by reddening or necrosis. The proportion of the leaf that is covered by the chlorotic areas may vary from scattered, short yellowish stripes to chlorotic areas that predominate over the leaf with islands of normal green. Prominent yellow blotches that spanned to the entire length of the leaves are also observed in some varieties. On older leaves, the symptoms tend to fade and recovery of symptoms is seen. Some varieties exhibit systemic yellowing where entire foliage remains yellow from grand growth phase. The SCMV is caused by a Potyvirus (family Potyviridae) which causes yield loss up to 1090% in India (Singh, 2001). SCMV was readily transmitted by infected setts, mechanical inoculation and several aphid species viz. Aphis gossypii,

Longiunguissacchari, Myzuspersicae and Rhopalosiphum maidis. Among these two viruses causing sugarcane mosaic, SCSMV (Poacevirus) is found to occur in more frequencies than SCMV. So far no aphid species is reported to transmit SCSMV in nature.

Yellow leaf disease Yellow leaf disease (YLD) is recently identified viral disease of sugarcane in India. The disease was earlier described as yellow leaf syndrome (YLS) is characterized by a yellowing of the midrib and lamina occurred in most of the sugarcane growing regions of the country and the disease intensity was recorded up to 100 per cent in certain susceptible varieties. The symptoms appear initially on third to fifth leaves from top in a maturing plant or ratoon crop. The symptoms could be very clear after 5 to 6 months of crop growth. On the leaves, the symptom appears as yellowish midrib on the lower surface. The yellowing may be confined to midrib region or the yellow discolouration may spread laterally to adjoining laminar region parallel to midrib up to a distance of 2.0 cm. Reddish discolouration of midrib and laminar region also noticed in certain varieties. In most susceptible varieties, typical yellowing of mid ribs and laminar region is observed on upper surface of the leaves. Finally, symptom of necrosis of discoloured laminar region from leaf tip to bottom and subsequent drying of entire leaf is seen. Sugarcane yellow leaf virus has been identied as the causative agent of the yellow leaf disease, which spreads through vegetative cuttings and one aphid species i.e. Melanaphis sacchari. Disease Management Strategy The propagation material in sugarcane setts plays vital role in the primary spread of diseases hence selection of healthy planting materials plays a vital role in raising healthy crop. Recently, multiplication of sugarcane through tissue culture is being advocated to produce disease-free planting materials. However, there is need to diagnose the native pathogens in sugarcane setts or tissue culture seedlings for effective disease management practice. Among the different approaches going for meristem culture technique was found to be more effective in the elimination of the causative virus from the systemically infected plants. Since these virus elimination techniques are not 100% efficient to eliminate the virus, therefore is a great need to index the sugarcane seedlings using precise techniques. At seedlings stage the disease symptoms are not expressed. Also symptom expression in meristem derived plants in the field may be suppressed due to very low virus titre of the infective virus. During recent past studies conducted at SBI, Coimbatore revealed that meristem culture combined with molecular diagnosis was proved to be successful to manage SCMV, SCSMV and SCYLV effectively. Production of SCYLV-free seedlings has ensured supply of YLD-free planting materials to the growers fields and such fields showed renewed vigor in the crop. Overall, virus elimination through meristem culture combined with molecular diagnosis has been demonstrated as viable strategy to manage mosaic and yellow leaf diseases of sugarcane.