, Volume 177, Issue 1, pp 1–13 | Cite as

Achievements in breeding coconut hybrids for tolerance to coconut foliar decay disease in Vanuatu, South Pacific

  • Jean-Pierre Labouisse
  • Tiata Sileye
  • François Bonnot
  • Luc Baudouin


Coconut foliar decay (CFD) is a disease of coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) associated with infection by coconut foliar decay virus (CFDV), which is endemic in Vanuatu, South Pacific. The local cultivar ‘Vanuatu Tall’ (VTT) is the only cultivar that is fully tolerant to CFD, whereas introduced cultivars and hybrids are affected to different degrees. From 1967 to 2008 a conventional breeding programme was conducted with the aim of creating hybrid planting material combining tolerance to CFD with improved copra yield and high copra weight per nut. This objective was achieved by crossing the progeny of selfed trees of ‘Rennell Island Tall’ (RIT) cultivar, selected for their low susceptibility to CFD in field screening tests, with VTT, improved by mass selection and intercrossing. An improved VTT × RIT hybrid was identified with a high degree of tolerance to CFD (less than 1% of diseased trees after 11 years of exposure to high disease pressure). The annual production of the improved VTT × RIT hybrid ranged from 21.9 to 28.6 kg of copra per tree, depending on the RIT parent, and was, on average, 34% higher than that of ‘VTT Elite’ an advanced cultivar obtained after four selection cycles of local VTT. However, the production of the hybrid in Vanuatu involves constraints such as frequent replanting and isolation of the seed garden and CFD control for the RIT parents. The importance of conducting research on the genetic determinism and the mechanism of tolerance to CFD for better control of the disease in the event that it spreads outside Vanuatu is discussed.


Breeding Cocos nucifera Coconut Hybrid Pacific Plant viruses Virus tolerance Vanuatu 



Coconut foliar decay


Coconut foliar decay virus


Coconut lethal yellowing


Malayan Red Dwarf


Markham Valley Tall


Rennell Island Tall


Solomon Islands Tall


Vanuatu Red Dwarf


Vanuatu Tall



We thank the Vanuatu Agricultural Research and Technical Centre, and the Vanuatu Government for their continuous support to coconut research as well as the VARTC coconut division staff, especially MM. Jean-Pierre Tabiusu, Godefroy Buletare, Emerick Tevanu, Pedro Relmal, and Valentino Telukluk, for the tremendous work done during the last four decades. We are also indebted to Dr. Jean-François Julia and Dr. Jean-Paul Morin, both retired CIRAD scientists, who participated in this research programme by setting up the first experiments at the Saraoutou station. The Waite Agricultural Research Institute of the University of Adelaide, the Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) were the other main funders of the activities reported in this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean-Pierre Labouisse
    • 1
  • Tiata Sileye
    • 2
  • François Bonnot
    • 3
  • Luc Baudouin
    • 3
  1. 1.CIRAD, UMR DAPMontpellierFrance
  2. 2.VARTCSantoVanuatu
  3. 3.CIRAD, UPR Étiologie dépérissementsMontpellierFrance

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