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Agriculture 2012, 2(3), 182-203; doi:10.3390/agriculture2030182

Taro Leaf Blight—A Threat to Food Security

1,* , 2
1 Plant Breeding Institute Cobbitty, University of Sydney, Cobbitty, NSW 2570, Australia 2 24 Alt Street, Queens Park, NSW 2022, Australia 3 Bioversity International, Rome 00057, Italy 4 The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research, Mt Albert, Auckland 1025, New Zealand 5 CIRAD, Port Vila, Vanuatu 6 Secretariat of Pacific Community, Suva, Fiji 7 Department of Crop Sciences, University of South Pacific, Apia, Samoa 8 Department of Agriculture, University of Technology, Lae, Morobe 411, Papua New Guinea
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 23 May 2012 / Revised: 15 June 2012 / Accepted: 4 July 2012 / Published: 16 July 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Plant Disease on Food Security)
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Taro leaf blight (caused by the Oomycete Phytophthora colocasiae) is a disease of major importance in many regions of the world where taro is grown. Serious outbreaks of taro leaf blight in Samoa in 1993 and in the last few years in Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria continue to demonstrate the devastating impact of this disease on the livelihoods and food security of small farmers and rural communities dependent on the crop. The spread of the disease to new geographical areas also poses a major threat to neighbouring countries and taro growing regions still free from the disease. Past research, particularly in the Pacific, has demonstrated that management measures such as chemical and cultural control are largely ineffective and that breeding for disease resistance is the most sustainable approach to manage the disease. Recently, the Pacific and South-east Asian regional taro networks have made excellent progress in developing cultivars resistant to taro leaf blight through enhanced utilization of taro genetic resources and close collaboration between farmers and researchers in breeding programs. These programs have secured vital taro genetic resources for future use. This paper provides an overview of the disease, its origin, distribution, biology, epidemiology, management and global impact. The paper will largely focus on breeding strategies to address the disease including challenges, opportunities and constraints. It also discusses how these breeding experiences and outputs can be scaled up to other geographical areas where the disease has been recently introduced or under threat of introduction.
Keywords: taro; Colocasia esculenta; taro leaf bight; Phytophthora colocasiae; resistance breeding; networks taro; Colocasia esculenta; taro leaf bight; Phytophthora colocasiae; resistance breeding; networks
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Singh, D.; Jackson, G.; Hunter, D.; Fullerton, R.; Lebot, V.; Taylor, M.; Iosefa, T.; Okpul, T.; Tyson, J. Taro Leaf Blight—A Threat to Food Security. Agriculture 2012, 2, 182-203.

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