Coconut Gene Bank Threatened

A deadly bacterial disease is knocking at the door of a crucial collection of coconut palms in Papua New Guinea.

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

View full profile.


Learn about our editorial policies.

Nov 12, 2012

A coconut palm in the Florida KeysWikimedia, Dominika DurtanOne of the planet's few collections of coconut palms is under serious threat from a bacterial disease afflicting trees close to the Southeast Asian facility where the trees are housed. The coconut collection, maintained as a genetic repository, contains 3,200 plants representing 57 different varieties of the species, Cocos nucifera, and sits in the country of Papua New Guinea. The disease, Bogia Coconut Syndrome, has essentially halted activities at the gene bank, with export of coconuts and coconut palms from the regions stopped and roadblocks set up to enforce the ban.

“We hope to rescue the collection,” Roland Bourdeix, coordinator of the International Coconut Genetic Resources Network, told Nature. “We'll relocate it if there's a safe way to move the plants. We are also planning to duplicate [the gene bank] in another country.”

The bacterium that causes Bogia...

Interested in reading more?

Coconut Gene Bank Threatened

The Scientist ARCHIVES

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?