The current management recommendation for papaya (Carica papaya) plants exhibiting symptoms of yellow crinkle disease in Australia is the practice of ratooning infected plants. Ratooning involves removing the main stem of diseased papaya plants and allowing a lateral stem (supposedly pathogen-free) to develop and replace the diseased stem. Using nonparametric and parametric methods of survival analysis, we tested different hypotheses regarding plant factors that may influence the postincubation period survival time of phytoplasma-infected papaya. The factors included plant age, the season (wet versus dry) when papaya plants first became symptomatic, and the two predominant phytoplasma strains causing papaya yellow crinkle: tomato big bud (TBB) or sweet potato little leaf strain V4 (SPLL-V4). Median survival time was estimated to be from 4 to 5 months. Therefore, we estimated that the infectious period (incubation period plus the period from postincubation to time-to-death period) of infected papaya ranges from 6 to 9 months. Using parametric accelerated failure modeling and nonparametric Cox proportional hazard modeling, no significant improvement from a null model (no covariates) was found when analyzing plant age, the season a plant was observed to be symptomatic, or phytoplasma strain. However, the season in which a papaya plant became symptomatic differed between the two phytoplasma strains, indicating that the TBB and SPLL-V4 strains may have different modes of insect acquisition and transmission. Because of the long infectious period and the rate of plant-to-plant spread, we question the use of ratooning as the primary management tactic for managing papaya yellow crinkle.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agronomy and Crop Science
- Plant Science