Recent lethal yellowing outbreak: why is the Malayan Yellow Dwarf coconut no longer resistant in Jamaica?
In Jamaica, the Maypan, a hybrid of Malayan Yellow Dwarf (MYD) and Panama Tall coconut, previously considered highly resistant, is currently being devastated by an epidemic outbreak of lethal yellowing disease. There are several possible causes for this change. In this study, we checked that affected planting material in Jamaica is genetically the same as the material shown to be resistant. We compared the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) of MYD sampled in four locations in Jamaica with a reference DNA of the same cultivar collected in five different countries. The results of our analyses showed more variation at 34 simple sequence repeat loci in Jamaica than in the rest of the world providing clear evidence for the presence of about 16% of alleles that do not match the usual typical MYD genotype. These alleles appear to have already been present in the introduced germplasm. This rules out a possible cause of the new outbreak: The observed heterogeneity may have caused some loss of resistance but is insufficient to explain a massive outbreak of the disease.