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‘Witches’ Broom’, a new threat to pea crop

‘Witches’ Broom’, a new threat to pea crop

HAU Vice-Chancellor BR Kamboj with scientists at HAU. Tribune photo



Tribune News Service

Hisar, March 22

Scientists of Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University (HAU) in Hisar have identified a new and a potentially devastating disease affecting pea crops. Named ‘Witches’ Broom,’ the disease is associated with the pathogen ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris’ (16SrI).

Course of action

  • Scientists noticed that approximately 10 per cent of the plants displayed symptoms akin to witches’ broom, characterised by stunted growth and a bushy appearance in the fields over 42.7 hectares, which exhibited abnormalities in pea plants.
  • The flowers underwent a peculiar transformation, turning into green structures. The high infestation observed in some fields led to a significant decline in crop yield, raising concerns among agricultural experts and farmers.
  • Scientists took swift action and collected plant samples, subjected to molecular identification in collaboration with scientists from IARI in New Delhi.the research team lead by Dr Jagmohan Singh Dhillon confirmed the presence of a previously unidentified disease in pea plants, marked by phyllody and witches’ broom symptoms.

Scientists noticed that approximately 10 per cent of the plants displayed symptoms akin to witches’ broom, characterised by stunted growth and a bushy appearance in the fields over 42.7 hectares, which exhibited abnormalities in pea plants. Furthermore, the flowers underwent a peculiar transformation, turning into green structures. The high infestation observed in some fields led to a significant decline in crop yield, raising concerns among agricultural experts and farmers.

The scientists took swift action and collected plant samples, subjected to molecular identification in collaboration with scientists from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in New Delhi. After exhaustive analysis, the research team led by Dr Jagmohan Singh Dhillon (Plant pathologist, CCS HAU, Hisar) confirmed the presence of a previously unidentified disease in pea plants, marked by phyllody and witches’ broom symptoms. The research found ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris’ of the 16SrI strain, a pathogen hitherto un-encountered in pea cultivation.

The discovery has now been officially documented in the prestigious Plant Disease journal of the American Phytopathological Society, based in the US, with a notable National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) rating of 10.50.

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor B R Kamboj lauded the scientists, including Dr Jagmohan Singh Dhillon, Dr Rakesh Kumar and Dr DS Duhan, applauding their outstanding research.

Research efforts are underway to develop strategies for managing and mitigating the impact of witches’ broom on pea cultivation, as its potential to disrupt agricultural economies looms large. The scientific community, together with agricultural stakeholders, is collaborating to understand the disease’s behaviour, spread, and find sustainable solutions to protect pea crops from this newfound threat, the VC said.

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#Haryana Agricultural University HAU #Hisar


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