Sandalwood Spike Disease

Sandal, the pride of Karnataka's forest wealth, is a perennial plant and exploitation of the plant for wood and oil is of great commercxial importance. The specie is a native of the southern part of India and nearly 80% of sandal oil production in India is in Karnataka.

However, sandal trees are susceptible to a serious disease, known as the spike disease, which was first observed in 1888. The disease causes an extreme smalling of leaves with sprouting of auxiliary buds, resulting in the certain death of infected trees. Although considerable research has been done, practical control measures are not available. The casual agent and mode of transmission of the disease are not established although some research shows that the causal agent might be a mycoplasma, and certain inspect species have been incriminated as vectors of the disease.

The major lines along which the research was carried out are indicated below:

1. A survey of sandal forests in Karnataka to estimate the extent and distribution of the disease.

2. Techniques for experimental transmission of the disease so that large number of seedlings/clones could be tested for reaction to the disease in the shortest possible period.

3. Vegetative propagation of sandal to achieve high levels of rooting and establishment; suited of most suitable host plants for sandal; mineral nutrition of sandal using tracer techniques.

4. Ecological studies on the possible vectors and manipulation of the forest environment to minimise their multiplication and movement.