Phytomonas staheli

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transmission electron micrographs of Phytomonas sp. flagellates in the phloem of coconut palms affected by hartrot, for details click on image or see the original source
Author(s): reproduced from Parthasarathy et al., 1976
Source: Molecular Plant Pathology (2018) 19 (4) p. 1031
oil palm (centre left) with symptoms of sudden wilt (marchitez sorpresiva, caused by Phytomonas) (click on image to enlarge it)
Author(s): Monica Elliott, University of Florida

Phytomonas staheli McGhee & McGhee, 1979

This species of flagellated protozoa is found in South and Central America. It causes a lethal wilt disease of coconut and oil palm, called hartrot, fatal wilt or marchitez sorpresiva. The disease can kill a palm within 2-3 month and in a location in Surinam, Phytomonas destroyed half of the coconut palms.

Wilting starts at the older fronds and progresses to the youngest fronds, accompanied by a rotting of the centre of the palm crown, the heart, where the new leaves develop. The disease is believed to be transmitted by leaf-sucking hemiptera, like bugs of the genus Lincus (Pentatomidae).