Indian scientists discover new eggplant disease

Scientists from the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) have discovered a new viral disease in eggplant (brinjal) crops in a small village in the Karur district. The disease, called tomato leaf curl virus (begomovirus), came to light when a group of scientists and officials of Horticulture Department made a diagnostic visit to the village a few days ago. The disease has been ascertained by a virologist at the National Research Centre for Banana (NRCB) in Tiruchi.

It is said that the virus was transmitted by cotton whitefly (Bemisia tabaci). It was found on two acres of eggplant (brinjal), which was about 50 days old. The incident level was around 20 to 30 per cent and the disease is spreading rapidly despite the farmers taking up spraying insecticides regularly.

J. Draviam, Senior Scientist and Head, Kirishi Vigyan Kendra, Karur, said the whitefly, which is a sap-sucking insect, might have spread the virus in the region. There was a possibility of noticing the disease in neighbouring Tiruchi district too. The disease would paralyse the plants, thus wiping out any yield.

He said the plants would have shunted growth. The new leaves would be greatly reduced in size and wrinkled. The leaves would curl downward. Flowers might appear and they would fall before fruit was set.

L. Sornamanickam, Assistant Director of Horticulture, Karur said that information about the disease had been communicated to all field-level officials. Farmers had been advised to destroy the plants, if they were affected.


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