Many species of palm trees have been susceptible to bacterial diseases that after being infected lead to death in months, with no chance of recovery after becoming ill. These diseases are transmitted and spread by sucking insects as Haplaxius crudus. These insects inject bacteria (phytoplasma) into salivary glands when they feed on phloem on the leaves of a palm tree, causing Lethal bronzing (LB) disease. In this scenario, thousands of palms have died such as the Florida palm tree icon cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), as well as starting to spread on the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). Some preventive measures can be taken, but once infected, uprooting the tree is the only practical solution. Currently, for the development of this project, the cabbage palm becomes the eligible palm for this study due to the number of available plants because the phytoplasma is present and active in the station. In this BEPE research project already foreseen in the submission of the fellowship application in the group of prof. Dr. Bahder, we propose to use bioformulations with insecticidal and bactericidal action for control to LB using a Brazilian endoterapic application technology. Thus, the agronomic efficiency evaluation will be conducted after the application of biopesticides evaluating through analyzing the spear leaf and/or youngest fully expanded leaf tissues by qPCR assays. This will make it possible to understand how it affects the palms as a control/preventive measure in Florida which may be applicable to any palm tree, including coconut palms, regardless of where they are. The BEPE fellowship will allow us to advance the results of this postdoctoral project and expand our knowledge in analysis from an agronomic perspective with ecological techniques under a pathosystem context in the pathogen-host interaction and the susceptibility. Although LB it is an A1 quarantine disease in Brazil, the country still has no containment and preventive measures to control and/or elimination if the disease appears. Therefore, with the confirmation of the active presence of the disease in the United States, this project may corroborate and assist countries with this disease in the palm.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: