Red Stripe Disease is a bacterial infection caused by Xanthomonas rubrilineans, posing a significant problem to the global sugarcane industry. The bacteria enter the plant through stomata, wounds, or insect bites, and once inside, they grow rapidly, causing the disease’s characteristic symptoms. The name “Red Stripe” refers to the reddish-brown stripes that appear on the leaves and stems of infected sugarcane plants, which can ultimately result in stunted growth and decreased yields.
Since 1893, when it was first found in Java, the Red Stripe Disease has spread to many places where Sugarcane is grown, such as Australia, India, Africa, and the Americas. The disease has become a major concern for sugarcane producers because it has the potential to cause significant yield and quality losses. Infected plants are more susceptible to diseases, parasites, and environmental stresses like drought and frost.
Red Stripe Management in Sugarcane
Causal Organisms of Red Stripe Disease
Red Stripe Disease is caused by Xanthomonas rubrilineans, a member of the Schizomycetes class, Pseudomonadales order, and the Pseudomonadaceae family. This bacterial disease affects sugarcane crops and causes reddish-brown streaks on the leaves, hindering the plant’s development and productivity.
Disease Cycle of Red Stripe Disease
The Red Stripe Disease disease cycle begins with the dissemination of the bacterium Xanthomonas rubrilineans via wind, rain, and the cutting of infected plants. The bacterial slime dries on the surface, producing a thin, easily dispersed crust. The bacterium then penetrates host plants via natural openings or wounds and establishes itself in numerous tissues, including the xylem.
Infected parenchymatous cells can result in the cessation of normal plant function. The disease can infect other grasses, including ragi and bajra, which may contribute to its persistence and spread. The stem from which the setts are extracted is predominantly devoid of bacterial infection.
Causes/Conditions Favorable for Red Stripe Disease in the Field
Red Stripe Disease is transmitted by wind, rain, and cutting, as the stem from which sets are usually harvested. The disease flourishes in moist and humid environments, and its symptoms typically manifest during the reproductive phase of the plant. Environmental factors such as high temperature, relative humidity, leaf moisture, and nitrogen availability can promote disease development. The bacterium invades plant tissue and produces toxins that move through the veins toward the leaf’s apex, causing the characteristic stripe. In Southeast Asia and India, Red Stripe Disease poses a significant hazard to sugarcane production.
Symptoms of Red Stripe Disease
- Chlorotic lesions with dark red stripes (0.5-1.0 mm in breadth and several mm in length) on the leaves, distributed all over the blade or concentrated in the middle.
- Lesions may coalesce, covering large areas of the leaf blade and causing wilting and drying of the leaves.
- On the lower surface of the leaf, dry bacterial ooze appears as whitish flakes, corresponding to the scarlet lesions on the upper surface.
- Young shoots may develop shoot or top rot, with yellow or reddish growing points and dark brown stripes.
- Rotting may commence from the tip and spread downwards.
- Dark red discoloration of tissues may be seen when affected plants are