As sugarcane is propagated by cuttings, diseases can easily be passed on from one plantation to another, with a risk of widescale crop destruction. Quarantining is the safest way of exchanging cuttings between producing countries without the risk of diseases. However, sugarcane quarantine operations are both costly and labour-intensive. Consequently, only large sugar complexes or major national research centres have their own quarantine service.
In the 1970s, CIRAD set up a sugarcane quarantine unit in Montpellier which is one of a kind, in that it ensures two cropping cycles under phytosanitary surveillance outside sugarcane producing zones. It comprises two observation and propagation glasshouses, which are associated with a plant pathology research laboratory. The laboratory uses efficient diagnostic tools to detect sugarcane diseases.
Today, CIRAD's "Visacane" sugarcane quarantine service supplies disease-free planting material worldwide to producing countries that do not have the possibility of possessing this type of installation, and to sugarcane breeding centres wishing to introduce genetic resources. It also proposes, on request, the dissemination of new varieties and disease detection.
To date, over 4000 sugarcane varieties have passed through Montpellier!
Visacane has been incorporated into CIRAD's "Biology and Genetics of Plant-Parasite Interactions " joint research unit in collaboration with the Institut national de la recherche agronomique and the Ecole nationale supérieure d’agronomie Montpellier SupAgro . The aim of the research undertaken is to analyse the variability of known pathogens, but also to study new diseases appearing in the world that are likely to cause serious damage.
This scientific environment enables routine diagnosis of diseases, and the rapid transfer of research results, which is essential for maintaining an effective diagnosis. Visacane therefore has access at all times to leading-edge pathogen detection techniques and, through CIRAD's network of partners, to information on the phytosanitary status of plantations throughout the world.
Biology and Genetics of Plant-Pathogen Interactions Joint Research Unit
Campus international de Baillarguet, TA A-54/K
34398 Montpellier cedex 5
Tel: +33 (0)4 99 62 48 60
Fax: +33 (0)4 99 62 48 48