Cocopest - Information portal for major pests and diseases of coconut
Cocopest - Information portal for major pests and diseases of coconut
Cocopest - Information portal for major pests and diseases of coconut
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Marasmiellus cocophilus (Lethal Bole Rot)
Little leaf symptom on seedlings & Basal stem break on seedlings
General information
The fungus, Marasmiellus cocophilus causes basal stem break and lethal bole rot in coconut seedlings [1]. In East Africa, the fungus has only been reported on coconut, but, in the Solomon Islands it has also been found growing on Bermuda grass, junglerice and goose grass. Death in palms is observed in younger palms up to 8 years old [2]. The entire bole decays in some cases due to infection by secondary bacteria [3].
The symptoms vary in both East Africa and the Solomon Islands.

Symptoms in East Africa [4]:

  • Symptoms appear on seedlings after they are transplanted to the field.
  • Infections in the root leads to basal tissue decay and spear leaf rot.
  • Wilt of fronds is observed on older palms and fronds remain hanging around the trunk.
  • Once the spear leaf dies, a soft rot develops at its base and produces a foul odour.
  • The base of the bole has dry, reddish-brown rot with a yellow margin.
  • For younger palms, aged from 2 to 4 years, M. cocophilus mycelium further grows within pits or plant tissue gaps, as described in [1].

Fungal fruiting bodies found on the seedling base

Detection and Inspection
Inspect seedlings’ outer leaves which are dying early, swellings at leaf bases with cracks and rots. Small white fruiting bodies may be present near the base of seedlings and leaves are stunted in the field. Visual confirmation of infection in seednut is not possible [1].
Taxonomic information
Category - Fungi
Genus - Marasmiellus
Species - cocophilus
Common Name - Lethal Bole Rot
Scientific Name - Marasmiellus cocophilus
Lethal bole rot of coconut has a narrow distribution, yet it is present in 2 continents, Africa (Kenya, Tanzania) and Oceania (Solomon Islands) [1].
Prevention and Control
  1. Quarantine:
    Seednuts from countries in East Africa where M. cocophilus is present should be prohibited from being transferred to unaffected areas [2].
  2. Chemical Control:
    Seed treatment: partially dehusk the nut by trimming at the top and three sides and dip in an appropriate fungicide for 15 minutes.
  3. Cultural control:
    • Weeding in the nursery.
    • Provide sufficient spacing between seedlings (e.g. 1m).
    • Remove the husk before planting to prevent the fungus from accumulating in the seedling.
Plant Parts Affected
Leaves, Seed
  1. CABI CPC (2020). Datasheet on Raoiella indica (red palm mite). Retrieved from
  2. Nusantara, A., Trisyono, Y.A., Suputa, S. & Martono, E. (2017) Current status and distribution of Raoiella indica Hirst (Acari: Tenuipalpidae) on coconut crops in Java, Indonesia. Int J Acarol, 43 (2),137-141.
  3. Kane, E.C., Ochoa, R., Mathurin, G. & Erbe, E.F. (2005). Raoiella indica (Hirst) (Acari: Tenuipalpidae): an island-hopping mite pest in the Caribbean. Unpaginated.
  4. Welbourn, C. (2006). Red palm mite, Raoiella indica Hirst (Acari: Tenuipalpidae). Red palm mite, Raoiella indica Hirst (Acari: Tenuipalpidae). unpaginated. [Pest alert.] Retrieved from
  5. Kane, E.C. & Ochoa, R. (2006). Detection and identification of the red palm mite Raoiella indica Hirst (Acari:Tenuipalpidae). unpaginated. [USDA document.] Retrieved from
  6. Hoy, M.A., Peña, J. & Nguyen, R. (2006). Red palm mite, Raoiella indica Hirst (Arachnida: Acari: Tenuipalpidae). Florida, USA: University of Florida, unpaginated. University of Florida IFAS extension document EENY-397 (IN711). Url:
  7. Peña, J.E., Rodrigues, J.C., Roda, A., Carrillo, D. & Osborne, L. (2009). Predator-prey dynamics and strategies for control of the red palm mite (Raoiella indica) (Acari: Tenuipalpidae) in areas of invasion in the neotropics. IOBC/WPRS Bull, 50, 69-79.
  8. Roda, A., Dowling, A., Welbourn, C., Pena, J., Rodrigues, J.C.V., Hoy, M., Ochoa, R., Duncan, A. & De Chi, W. (2008). Red palm mite situation in the Caribbean and Florida. Proceedings of the Caribbean Food Crops Society, 44 (1), 80-87.
  9. Dowling, A. P. G., Ochoa, R., Beard, J.J. Welbourn, W.C. & Ueckermann, E.A. (2011). Phylogenetic investigation of the genus Raoiella indica (Prostigmata: Tenuipalpidae): diversity, distribution and world invasions. Exp Appl Acarol, 13 pp.
  10. Bronson, C.H. (2009). Effectively managing red palm mite in nursery environments. Nursery industry update. Florida, USA: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, unpaginated.
  11. Peña, J. & Rodrigues, J. (2010). Alternatives for the chemical control of the red palm mite, Raoiella indica (Acari:Tenuipalpidae) on palms and bananas. XIII International Congress of Acarology, Recife: Brazil.
  12. Nadarajan, L., ChannaBasavanna, G.P. & Chandra, B.K.N. (1980). Control of coconut pests through stem injection of systemic insecticides. Mysore J Agr Sci, 14 (3),355-364.
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