As part of my undergraduate research work, I attempted to identify endophytic microbes that may potentially be used as biocontrols against the Côte d’Ivoire Lethal Yellowing (CILY) disease, which had previously destroyed approximately 350 ha of coconut trees in the West African country. This was done by creating profiles of the microbial communities present within both infected and uninfected trees. A ‘dilution-to-extinction’ method of high-throughput culturing was used in order to cultivate both bacterial and fungal endophytes directly from samples collected from the town of Grand-Lahou, followed by molecular analyses for strain identification. Our results identified Trichoderma, Penicillium, Bacillus, and Pseudomonas as endophytes present within coconut palms. Several of these endophytes have historically been used as part of microbial biocontrol consortia against other plant pathogens such as Fusarium, and show promise as potential biocontrols to be tested for use against CILY in field studies.
Related publication: Morales-Lizcano et al. (2017) Microbial diversity in leaves, trunk and rhizosphere of coconut palms (Cocos nucifera L.) associated with the coconut lethal yellowing phytoplasma in Grand-Lahou, Côte d’Ivoire. Available online.
Bonus: Here’s a fun and largely jargon-free one-minute video summary of the project that I made.