Pest and Disease Research Projects (36)

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Studies on vectors of CSSV

Funded by CRUK
» University of Reading
(2014 to 2015)
Researcher: Dr. A.Wetten
A six month study to improve our understanding of the basic processes underlying CSSV infection of cacao thereby supporting programmes for the control of the disease. The main objective of this project is to characterise the feeding behaviour of CSSV vector and non-vector mealybugs, and thus the factors that influence virus transmission using the Electrical Penetration Graph (EPG) technique but other potential vectors will also be studied.

Sustained Prosperity from Improved Cocoa Cultivars: The Mabang Megakarya Selection Programme (MMSP) 2012-2016

Funded by CRUK and COCOBOD, Embassy of the Netherlands, Accra, Mondelez International, Mars, GCGRA
» Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
(2013 to 2016)
Researcher: Mr. E.Nsiah
The supply of improved planting materials to farmers is a vital component in ensuring the sustainability of cocoa production. A public/private partnership between Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Ghana, GCGRA and its sister organisation CR(UK) Ltd, Mars and Mondelez International will contribute over €4million to the continuation of a major breeding programme, the Mabang Megakarya Selection Programme (MMSP) over four years. MMSP’s work will lead to Ghana’s seed gardens supplying farmers with new varieties which have been tested for their performance in an area affected by the devastating Megakarya form of Black Pod disease. In the longer term it will also develop improved clonal varieties which will be at the heart of the modernisation of cocoa production.

CFC/ICCO Integrated Managements of Cocoa Pests and Pathogens in Africa: Controlling indigenous pests and diseases and prevent ing the introduction of exogenous ones.

Funded by CRA and CFC/ICCO/national research institutes and industry partners
» Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
(2013 to 2017)
Researcher: Dr. A. Cudjoe
The project aims to strengthen in-country and regional capacity for improved pest surveillance for prevention of spread, early detection, eradication and continued management of existing and invasive pests and pathogens. Crop and pest management strategies, as an integral part of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) is to be adopted as the main methodology to reduce crop losses by indigenous pests and diseases and to prevent the spread of both indigenous and exogenous pests and pathogens in the participating countries. Additionally, the project addresses the increasing threat of the spread of exogenous pests and pathogens to the African. The project will put in place measures to reduce the risk of the spread of exogenous pests and diseases such as Witches’ Broom (WB), Frosty Pod Rot (FP) - Moniliophthora roreri and Cocoa Pod Borer (CPB) - Conopomorpha cramerella through capacity building and awareness-raising.

Mabang Megakarya Selection Programme (MMSP) - Consolidation Phase.

Funded by GCGRA and CRIG/COCOBOD, CRUK Ltd, The Embassy of the Netherlands in Accra, Mars, Mondelez International
» Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
(2013 to 2016)
Researcher: Mr. E.Nsiah
The supply of improved planting materials to farmers is a vital component in ensuring the sustainability of cocoa production. A public/private partnership between Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Ghana, GCGRA and its sister organisation CR(UK) Ltd, Mars and Mondelez International will contribute over €4million to the continuation of a major breeding programme, the Mabang Megakarya Selection Programme (MMSP) over four years. MMSP’s work will lead to Ghana’s seed gardens supplying farmers with new varieties which have been tested for their performance in an area affected by the devastating Megakarya form of Black Pod disease. In the longer term it will also develop improved clonal varieties which will be at the heart of the modernisation of cocoa production.

Sustainable Cocoa Production in West Africa: Development of a Farmer-Participatory Integrated Crop Management Project

Funded by BCCCA
» CABI
(1993 to 1993)

Sustained Prosperity from Improved Cocoa Cultivars: The Mabang Megakarya Selection Programme (MMSP) 2012-2016

Funded by COCOBOD, Embassy of the Netherlands, Accra, Mondelez International, Mars, GCGRA & CRUK
» Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
(2012 to 2016)
The supply of improved planting materials to farmers is a vital component in ensuring the sustainability of cocoa production. A public/private partnership between Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Ghana, GCGRA and its sister organisation CR(UK) Ltd, Mars and Mondelez International will contribute over €4million to the continuation of a major breeding programme, the Mabang Megakarya Selection Programme (MMSP) over four years. MMSP’s work will lead to Ghana’s seed gardens supplying farmers with new varieties which have been tested for their performance in an area affected by the devastating Megakarya form of Black Pod disease. In the longer term it will also develop improved clonal varieties which will be at the heart of the modernisation of cocoa production.

Proteomic Analysis of Witches' Broom Disease of Cocoa.

Funded by CRUK and LNV Sustainable Cocoa Subsidy Scheme (Dutch Buffer Stock)
» University of Aberystwyth
(2006 to 2010)
Researcher: Dr. G. Griffith & Dr. I. Scott
A post-graduate research project co-funded by the Government of the Netherlands and CRUK to study changes in host metabolism between resistant and susceptible varieties at the biochemical level. The research included the development of new method to quantify the amount of fungus in planta using a realtime quantitative PCR technique and studied the occurence and changes in proteins associated with different strains of fungus during the infection process.

Germplasm enhancement for Witches' Broom and Black Pod Resistance.

Funded by CRA* and CFC and other co-financiers
*(transferred from BCCCA in 2008)
» University of the West Indies
(Ongoing project; started in 1998)
Researchers: Dr. D. Iwaro, Dr. D. Butler
Developing populations with enhanced resistance to major diseases using genetically divergent parental materials.

A West Africa-wide survey of Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus (CSSV) and associated viruses

Funded by CRUK
» University of Reading
» Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
(2010 to 2012)
Researchers: Wetten, A.
A post-doctoral research project to gain a better understanding of the distribution, movement and strain profile of the pathogens responsible for CSSV. A 454 sequencing approach will be used to rapidly and cost-effectively characterise CSSV strains in samples collected from sites throughout West Africa. Information will also be gathered on the extent of non-CSSV viruses and the role of indigenous plant species in the epidemiology of CSSV will be investigated with a view to improving the guidance given to farmers on managing the flora on and near to their farms to reduce the risks of CSSV spread

Evaluation of predictive tests for resistance to black pod disease in Ghana

Funded by GCGRA
» Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
(2010 to 2011)
Researchers: Dr. Boamah Adomako, Dr. F. Amoah, Dr. Lockwood (Advisor)
A research project in Ghana to test whether the leaf disc and/or detached pod tests for black pod resistance can be used to predict the rank order of disease incidence of the 16 clones in a completed clone trial and of the general combining abilities (gcas) of 5 and 10 parents in two completed field trials.

Safe Control of Mirid Pests in West Africa.

Funded by CRUK
» Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
(2007 to 2011)
Researcher: Dr.Roy Bateman
One of two linked post-graduate research projects to evaluate the potential of pheromones and biocontrol agents for integrated pest management and developing improved spray technologies for use with biocontrol agents.

Safe Control of Mirid Pests in West Africa.

Funded by CRUK
» Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
(2007 to 2011)
Researcher: Dr. R. Bateman
One of two linked post-graduate research projects to evaluate the potential of pheromones and biocontrol agents for integrated pest management and developing improved spray technologies for use with biocontrol agents. Joe Sarfo (CRIG, Ghana) experimented with different formulations of pheromones, trap design, height and density to optimise the methodology. Traps designed with low cost, locally available materials were found to be effective, though the best results were obtained using traps with a sticky outer surface in addition the standard sticky inner surface. Field experiments showed that although catches of male Sahlbergella singularis, the dominant mirid species in this region of Ghana, were significantly reduced in mass-trapped fields, pheromone trapping did not control mirid numbers or damage on cocoa, likely due to a combination of factors including the erratic airflow (sometimes absent) in canopies, patchy distribution of mirids within cocoa plantings, and their flight behaviour. However, the technology offers potential as a tool for monitoring mirid populations with a view to better targetting pest control by other means.

CSSV - strain independent screen.

Funded by CRUK
» University of Reading
» University of Aberystwyth
(2010 to 2010)
Researchers: Dr.A.Wetten, Dr.J. Allainguillaume
A post-doctoral research project to develop a sensitive and strain-independent molecular screen for CSSV and to assess its efficacy as part of the quarantine procedure. Geographical variability of CSSV isolates, and putative reservoirs of virus in non-cocoa species will also be investigated to improve our understanding of virus spread.

Isolation and Characterisation of the Female Sex Pheromone of the Cocoa Stem Borer, Eulophonotus myrmeleon.

Funded by CRUK
» Natural Resources Institute
» Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
(2008 to 2010)
Researchers: Prof. D. Hall, Dr. S. Lowor, Dr. A Cudjoe
A research project to isolate the sex pheromone of the stem borer, an increasingly important pest in Ghana, for potential use in an integrated pest management system.

Isolation and Characterisation of the Female Sex Pheromone of Helopeltis theivora.

Funded by CRUK and PTPP London Sumatra
» Natural Resources Institute
» Lonsum
(2008 to 2010)
Researchers: Prof.D. Hall, Dr. S. Nelson
A research project, jointly supported with PTPP London Sumatra, to isolate the sex pheromone for the Helopeltis mirid which causes significant losses in SE Asia, for use in an integrated pest management system.

Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus - Molecular Study of Movement and Elimination.

Funded by CRUK
» University of Reading
(2006 to 2010)
Researcher: Dr. A. Wetten & Dr. J. Allainguillaume
A post-graduate research project to study the movement of CSSV virus asit moves through the host plant. The research demonstrated that although sections of DNA from CSSV appears to be transmitted from the mother plant to seeds, it is inactivated and does not result in CSSV infection in the seedling.

Understanding Seasonal Variability in Quality, Yield and Disease Resistance.

Funded by CRUK and LNV Sustainable Cocoa Subsidy Scheme (Dutch Buffer Stock)
» University of Reading
» University of Aberystwyth
(2005 to 2010)
Researchers: Prof. Paul Hadley, Prof. Mike Wilkinson, Dr. Nicholas Cryer, Dr. Penny Tricker, Dr. Carlos Rodriguez-Lopez, Dr. Vladimir Bruhkin
A post-doctoral research project co-funded by the Government of the Netherlands to investigate the control of plant development and its response to environmental conditions and stresses caused by biotic and abiotic factors at the molecular level. This research contributed to our understanding of how regions and genes across the genome are differentially silenced or activated in response to environmental changes and developmental progression. Attention was focused on identifying environmentally sensitive regions of the genome that affect bean quality and yield potential. The results generated are being integrated with existing global genomics and transcriptomics research efforts to identify the particular genes involved and to define conditions for optimal gene expression. In the longer term, this work will assist in the breeding of clones that are well adapted to local conditions and will greatly improve the power of existing genetics research efforts.

Student placement study on lignification in the sclerotic layer in relation to CPB resistance.

Funded by CRUK
» University of Reading
(2009 to 2009)
Researchers: Dr. P. Hatcher, Prof. P. Hadley
A short project to enable an Indonesian student to carry out histological studies on the cocoa pod wall as part of his PhD studies at the Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia. The thickness of the lignified layer and its cell structure appear to be correlated with resistance to CPB, suggesting that this physical barrier is important in preventing emergence of the CPB larvae from the pod.

Dose-Transfer Efficiency of Cone Nozzles using fungicides against cocoa black pod disease as a model system.

Funded by CRUK
» The International Pesticide Application Research Consortium
» Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
(2009 to 2009)
Researcher: Dr. R. Bateman
An MSc student placement to test novel nozzle designs against standard spraying equipment in Ghana.

Mabang Megakarya Selection Programme (MMSP).

Funded by GCGRA and LNV Sustainable Cocoa Subsidy Scheme (Dutch Buffer Stock) and CRIG/COCOBOD
» Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
(2005 to 2009)
Researcher: Mr. E.Nsiah
A major new breeding programme with the objective of new planting materials with high yield in the presence of damaging pests and diseases, and which can deliver fermented and dried cocoa beans of traditional Ghanaian quality.

The Mabang Megakarya Selection Programme (MMSP): Establishment Phase

Funded by CRIG/COCOBOD, GCGRA and LNV Sustainable Cocoa Subsidy Scheme (Dutch Buffer Stock)
» Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
(2005 to 2009)
A major new breeding programme with the objective of new planting materials with high yield in the presence of damaging pests and diseases, and which can deliver fermented and dried cocoa beans of traditional Ghanaian quality.

Biocontrol of Cocoa Diseases (Student placements at CATIE).

Funded by CRUK
» CATIE
(2001 to 2009)
Researchers: U. Krauss, J.Crozier, G.M. ten Hoopen
Short placements for UK students to learn and develop fungal biocontrol techniques at a centre of expertise in CATIE, Costa Rica.

Witches' Broom x Genotype Interactions.

Funded by BCCCA
» University of Reading
(2002 to 2004)
Researcher: Dr. M.Shaw
A research project following on from the Witches Broom ring-test activity of the CFC/ICCO/Bioversity Conservation and Utilisation of Cacao Germplasm project. Different cocoa varieties were tested against strains of Witches' Broom (WB) fungus from different regions in S. America under controlled greenhouse conditions in the UK. It was established that although a variety might be resistant to one strain of WB, it could be quite susceptible to another.

Cocoa Pod Borer Research 1995-2004

Funded by BCCCA and Co-funding towards SUCCESS CPB management project involving ASKINDO, USDA, USAID and WCF
» Imperial College
(1995 to 2004)
BCCCA support enabled a consultant to provide input on experimental design, management and data analysis to CPB projects to develop and implement integrated pest management control systems for this major pest in SE Asia.

Process of Host Infection by Basidiospores of Moniliophthora perniciosa (formerly Crinipellis perniciosa) Witches' Broom.

Funded by CRUK
» University of Aberystwyth
(2001 to 2003)
Researchers: Dr. G.Griffiths, Dr. I.Scott, Dr. T. Carver
A post-doctoral research project using electron microscopy to study the infection process. The study demonstrated that infection usually occurs through hair cells rather than stomata as had previously been thought.

Developmental Changes as Moniliophthora (formerly Crinipellis) perniciosa (Witches' Broom) progresses from Biotrophic to Saprophytic Growth.

Funded by CRUK
» University of Aberystwyth
(1998 to 2002)
Researchers: Dr. G.Griffiths, Dr. I.Scott
A post-graduate research project to study the changes at the gene expression level for key enzymes as the infected cocoa shoot dies and the Witches' Broom fungus prepares to produce its spores.

Genetic Diversity in Moniliophthora perniciosa (formerly Crinipellis perniciosa)

Funded by CRUK
» University of Aberystwyth
(1998 to 2002)
Researchers: Dr. G.Griffiths, Dr. I.Scott
A research project to use AFLP genetic fingerprinting to study the relationships between different strains of Witches' Broom fungus and its close relationship to Frosty Pod fungus (Moniliophthora roreri).

Entomopathogenic Fungi for Control of Mirids in Ghana

Funded by GCGRA
» CABI
» Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
(1999 to 2001)
Researcher: Dr George Oduor
This project was initiated to find, isolate and identify suitable fungal pathogens which could be used to develop an environmentally friendly biocontrol technique to control mirids (capsids), an insect pest which cause substantial damage to the cocoa crop in West Africa. The objectives were to isolate suitable pathogens from mirid populations in Ghana, demonstrate the technical feasibility of cocoa mirid control using fungal pathogens and train Ghanaian scientists in the principles of insect pathology and production of fungal entomopathogens. It complements a larger CABI/CRIG project which was funded by the UK Government (DFID). Staff from the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) were trained in various aspects of insect pathology both in the laboratory in CABI (UK), CABI-ARC (Kenya) and through on-the-job training in Ghana. Surveys for pathogens in the different cocoa growing regions in Ghana recovered a number of fungal pathogens but only Beauveria bassiana was considered to be worth evaluating as a potential mycoinsecticide. Four other isolates of B. bassiana from cocoa mirids in Papua New Guinea were studied alongside the Ghanaian one. Bioassays against the mirid Sahlbergella singularis did not show any significant differences in the pathogenicities of these isolates. Studies conducted at different temperatures (23, 28 and 33OC) on the rate of growth on artificial medium, intensity of sporulation and viability of both dry spores and spores formulated in oil, of the different isolates identified isolate 382948 (originally isolated from S. singularis in Ghana) as the most promising one for development into a biopesticide. A technique for mass producing B. bassiana on sterilised boiled rice was developed and utilised. Further work is now required in refining formulation, and conducting field trials in order to evaluate the efficacy of this potential biopesticide against cocoa mirid.

The Development of a Cocoa Pest Management Simulation Model to Measure the Efficacy & Economic Return of Management Activities Against Cocoa Pod Borer, Rats, Mirid Bugs & Pod Diseases.

Funded by BCCCA
» Centre for Environmental Technology, Imperial College at Silwood Park
» University of Reading
(2000 to 2000)
Researchers: J. Mumford, P. Hadley, Dr. A.Leach, Dr. A.Daymond
A project to enhance a computer simulation model of the CPB for Indonesian cocoa production, which had been previously developed with BCCCA support, by incorporating elements to predict the pod development cycle, and estimate the net returns of management strategies. It is anticipated that the model can be used as a training tool to help extension workers to understand the dynamics of CPB infestation and how management options may shift to maintain optimal returns for farmers under different market conditions (labour costs/cocoa price).

Diagnostic procedures for detection of Cocoa Swollen Shoot Badnavirus Isolates

Funded by GCGRA
» Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
(1988 to 2000)
Researcher: Dr. S. Sackey
Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus (CSSV) disease has a serious impact on cocoa production in many areas of West Africa though it is not known to occur in the main cocoa areas of the Americas or Southeast Asia. It is one of the most challenging diseases to detect/diagnose both in the field and during the quarantine process since the leaf symptoms of many strains are difficult to distinguish from those caused by mineral deficiencies, and moreover, since viral infections may remain latent/asymptomatic for several years. At the start of this project in 2000, a review of the CSSV detection methods reported in the literature indicated that it was still difficult to unequivocally diagnose cocoa swollen shoot badnavirus infections, since with the exception of electron microscopy and host symptom induction in seedlings, the various diagnostic practices could not be relied upon to universally detect all isolates/infections. To increase the range of strains that the primers could detect, a nucleotide sequence database was compiled on a segment of virus genome covering thirty-six CSSV isolates. Even though PCR DNA products were obtained from all the selected virus isolates, cloning and nucleotide sequencing proved difficult. Thus nucleotide sequences were generated from only a few isolates. The second part of the project was to design new primers based on a new consensus of that part of the virus genome defined by the badna primers. The consensus generated from the few CSSV isolates were used in conjunction with sequences from other viruses associated with tropical crops typically found in Ghanaian cocoa farms, i.e. Discorea alata (yam), banana, and sugarcane, and some typical weeds, i.e. commelina, and kalenchoe. The new primers were characterized to determine optimal conditions for PCR. In the third part of the project, the primers were assessed for their ability to generate amplification products from CSSV infected tissue from these same 36 isolates. It was shown that unlike the universal primers of Lockhart and Olszewski (1983) all but a few of the samples tested produced only one DNA amplification product of the expected 600 base pair molecular weight. Selected amplification products were cloned and sequenced and it was confirmed that they were virus-coded. The cloned DNAs were used as templates for the synthesis of non-radioactive labelled probes for dot blot hybridisation analysis of crude virus DNA extracts, and differentiated between virus DNA and uninfected (healthy) Amelonado cocoa DNA. The project was carried out in part as a postgraduate research project and Ms Rita Nana Konadu Osei submitted her thesis in partial fulfilment of the conditions for the award of the M.Phil. degree in Biochemistry from the University of Ghana in December 2000.

Economic Model for CPB

Funded by BCCCA
» Centre for Environmental Technology, Imperial College at Silwood Park
(1998 to 1998)
Researchers: Prof. J. Mumford, Dr. A.Leach
A short project to develop a model to estimate the effects of Complete, Frequent, Regular Harvesting (CFRH) and/or pesticide applications on the dry weight of the cocoa harvested. The model used data generated by the ACRI/ASKINDO/BCCCA Cocoa Pod Borer Management Project in Indonesia. The model shows how CPB can be effectively suppressed by the removal of ripe pods on a weekly basis to substantially increase yield compared to monthly harvest due to the effect on the CPB alone. However, the effects of CRFH are even greater when the losses due to rat and Black Pod damage are also taken into account. The model predicts that pesticide application would have to take place on a very frequent basis (weekly) in a monthly harvesting regime to produce yields comparable to those obtainable with a weekly harvesting regime.

A rapid PCR diagnostic test to identify Black Pod pathogens (Phytophthora palmivora, P. megakarya)

Funded by BCCCA
» University of Aberystwyth
(1997 to 1997)
Researcher: Dr. G.Griffiths
A short project to develop a PCR method to diagnose the causal agent of Black Pod infections from fresh or dried samples of pod husk.

Laboratory and field evaluation of neem seed water extract with different spraying nozzles for control of capsids

Funded by GCGRA
» University of Kade
» Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
(1995 to 1996)
Researcher: Prof Afreh-Nuamah

Evaluation of the Virobacterial Agglutination Test for Cocoa Shoot Virus

Funded by BCCCA
» Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
» University of Reading
(1992 to 1993)
Researchers: Prof. P. Hadley, Dr. Ann Parker

Fungal Biomass Distribution in Witches' Broom Disease of Cocoa

Funded by BCCCA
» University of Liverpool
(1989 to 1993)
Researcher: Dr. K. Hardwick
A PhD project to investigate fungal biomass distribution in Witches' Broom Disease of Cocoa

Testing for WB Resistance

Funded by BCCCA
» Imperial College
(1990 to 1992)
Researchers: Dr. B. Wheeler, Dr. Mark Luterbacher
A research project to develop methods to screen genotypes for their reaction to different strains of Moniliophthora perniciosa (formerly Crinipellis perniciosa), the fungus which causes Witches' broom disease.
"Gaining a better understanding of the pests and diseases of cocoa, so as to control them with minimal use of pesticides"