New disease threatens citrus fruits in Oman

Muscat, March 26 – Citrus plants in the Sultanate, which were ravaged by witches’ broom disease, is facing a new threat in the some areas of the Sultanate. Dr Abdullah Mohammed al Sadi, a plant pathologist and Dean of the College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences at Sultan Qaboos University, said that the research team at the college has found symptoms of a new disease.
“The symptoms are characterised by yellow veins, blotchy mottled patterns on leaves, small green fruits, lopsided fruits, half green fruits, yellow shoots, twig dieback, and tree decline. Examination of the symptoms by our MSc student Ahmed al Fahdi proved infection of the trees by a bacterium called Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus. The disease was observed in some farms in Suhar, Al Rustaq, Al Jabal Al Akhdhar, Salalah and other areas.”
Dr Al Sadi said the Citrus greening or yellow dragon disease is one of the most serious diseases that threaten citrus production in the world. The disease first originated in China and it was then reported in other countries including Brazil, the USA, India and Saudi Arabia.
“It is important to do more surveys to investigate distribution of the disease in other areas of the country. If the disease is not widespread in the Sultanate, it may be necessary to eradicate the infected trees”, the dean said.