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Sheesham trees get a new lease of life

Scientists have finally identified the disease that kills the precious sheesham trees at its most productive age, reports Gaurav Tripathi.

india Updated: Jun 06, 2010 19:34 IST
Gaurav Tripathi
Gaurav Tripathi
Hindustan Times

Scientists have finally identified the disease that kills the precious sheesham trees at its most productive age.

Sheesham, known for its costly and durable wood, dies at the most productive age of 20 years due to fungus named as Fuserium Solenoid. . In Agra division alone 60 to 70 percent of sheesham trees have been destroyed due to fungal infection. The 20-year-old tree is considered most productive because the tree acquires maximum biomass from 20 to 40 years.

Now, scientists have developed a new species of sheesham that would not fall prey to any fungal infection.

Highly reliable sources informed HT, "The Government of India was concerned over the decreasing number of sheesham trees. The phenomenon was same in all the states. Therefore the Central handed over a project to the Forest Research Institute (FRI) here to develop a species of sheesham that doesn't contract Fuserium Solenoid."

Parmanand Yadav, silviculturist and Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) told HT, "Across the country it was observed that the two species of sheesham- Dalbergia Sissoo and Latifolia Sissoo -were getting destroyed (read dehydrated) by the time they attained 20 years age."

He said, "We termed the disease as wilt and collected the clones of sheesham trees from different parts of the state. During tests, we observed that the fungus Fuserium Solenoid attacked the root of the plant and subsequently it got dehydrated."

The scientists here termed it root rot disease that checks the nutrient conduction in the plant, resulting into high mortality rate of sheesham trees across the country.

Clones (new suits) of sheesham collected from different parts of the country were tested here in the tissue culture laboratory. After permutation and combination, scientists applied the fungus to several sheesham plants and the one, which survived the fungal attack, was finally selected as the new species.

"Now, its' been over four years since we planted Fusarium Solani, the new disease- free sheesham plant and so far there no fungal infection or any other disease has been found in these trees that are 55 in number on FRI premises," said deputy forest ranger AR Arya.

Parmanand Yadav said, "We will have to wait for another 16 years to reach to final conclusion, but the manner in which these plants have survived for four years is indeed encouraging."

First Published: Jun 06, 2010 19:31 IST