SUT researchers, namely Asst. Prof. Dr. Natthiya Beurnsantia and Dr. Sopon Wongkaeo, School of Crop Production Technology, SUT, along with Ms. Roongtip Sangpeurk, Master’s Degree Student; and Dr. Kanjana Tammanu, SLRI Researcher, under the funding of the National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) along with the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), has experienced success in using SLRI’s Fourier transform (FTIR) infrared microspectroscopy to determine the type of agency to cause cassava anthracnose disease, referring to standard morphology and bio molecular methods for studying molds.

Anthracnose is presently discovered to severely affect some cassava varieties such as the Kasetsart 50 and Rayong 72.  If the disease occurs in a particularly weak variety of cassava, it could die standing up.  Most of the time, the disease is discovered when the cassava is 6 – 8 months old, which can result in more than 80 % of production being damaged.

The research team revealed that cassava samples infected with anthracnose collected from 10 districts in 8 provinces showed that the major cause was Colletotrichum gloeosporioides , the type that has been reported previously.  Some isolates could be determined with certainty that they were C. gloeosporioides f. sp. Manihotis, from the size of their conidia.  Moreover, C. capsici (truncatum) and C. lindemuthianum were present in some samples, the first time ever to be reported.  The discovery of the form species aeschynomene and boninense of C. Gloeosporioides has also been the very first, in addition to the f. sp. Manihotis.

The team’s research is a development of using original techniques with biomolecular and FTIR microspectroscopy tecniques, in studying the cause of cassava anthracnose, which up to now has not been clearly determined.  Proper identification would enable correct protective and preventive techniques.  The FTIR microspectroscopy was combined with statistical anlysis in building a database for anthracnose cause identification.  The infrared spectrum database could indicate the type of mold causing anthracnose up to 98 percent accuracy.  When the database was tested to determine the type of mold causing anthracnose from the cassava field, it was found to yield 70 percent accuracy, which corresponds to that of biomolecular testing.  However this is just a pilot study, requiring further study to help decrease possible errors of analysis.  Thus application of the FTIR microspectroscopy is an alternative to determining the type of mold causing cassava anthracnose, as well as causes of other plant diseases in the future.

Some parts of this research have been presented in international conferences and published in international journals.  Besides this research, Asst. Prof. Dr. Nattiya Beurnsantia and Dr. Sopon Wongkaew, and research team, along with Dr. Kanjana Tammanu, SLRI, are involved in many projects involving cassava disease, especially the “Head and Root Rot in Cassava” project, which is an urgent project of the Khorat Tapioca Model.

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