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Is your cup of tea infected? Assam University researchers have detected fungal disease in Assam tea. Read to know more

First Published: 22nd June, 2024 17:54 IST

Scientists at Assam University have made the groundbreaking discovery, identifying a new disease known as 'leaf necrosis.'

Reported by Bikram Sarkar

Globally known to be one of the finest for its rich taste and aroma, the Assam tea seems to now face a grave threat. What has worried many is the fact that researchers of Assam University in Silchar have detected a new fungal disease affecting tea leaves.

Scientists at Assam University have made the groundbreaking discovery, identifying a new disease known as ‘leaf necrosis.’

But what causes ‘leaf necrosis’?

It is caused by the fungus ‘Lasiodiplodia theobromae’. This is the first report of the disease in India, with a previous occurrence only documented in China.

Led by Prof. Piyush Pandey, the research highlights the fungus as a significant threat to Assam’s tea plantations. The symptoms are somewhat similar to those of black-rot caused by Corticium infections, complicating its diagnosis and treatment.

“This is a fungal disease amd we discovered it which primarily affects tea leaves and causes infection. We were studying about another disease affecting the tea plants when we came across this new fungal infection. When we collected samples from in and Dibrugarh and here (Silchar) we could characterize the new infection. This disease was there in the tea gardens from before, but its existence was known only today,” Pandey said.

Industry stakeholders believe that identifying this new disease will lead to the development of effective control measures. In a significant scientific advancement, Prof. Pandey’s team also reported the complete genome sequence of the disease for the first in the field.

The Vice Chancellor of Assam University, Prof Rajive Mohan Pant, has praised Prof. Pandey for his significant contribution, reiterating the university’s commitment to support the regional tea industry through dedicated research and innovation. This discovery comes at a critical time for Assam’s tea producers, who are hopeful that this new knowledge will lead to better management strategies and mitigate the impact of the disease on tea production.

Watch also: Researchers detect new fungal disease in Assam tea

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