Biodegradation of Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze Wood by Hypoxylon sp. Isolates from Diverse Tea Growing Counties of Kenya

  • Joel K. Langat Integrated Pest and Disease Management, KALRO - Tea Research Institute, P. O. Box 820 - 20200, Kericho, Kenya.
  • Rose C. Ramkat Department of Biological Science, Moi University, P. O. Box 3900-30100, Eldoret, Kenya
  • Richard Mose Tea Breeding and Genetic Improvement, KALRO - Tea Research Institute, P. O. Box 820 - 20200, Kericho, Kenya
Keywords: Hypoxylon wood rot, Ascomycetes, disease incidence, tea cultivars, biodegradation, Kenya


Many fungi play a vital role in the decomposition of wood in nature and nutrient cycling, yet some afflict serious damage to cultivated tree crops and forestry. Tea (Camellia sinensis (L) O. Kuntze) is affected by Hypoxylon wood rot (HWR) disease caused by the Hypoxylon sp. Pers ex Fr. In the recent years; there have been reports on increase of the disease in Kenya. This study aimed at determining disease incidence and biodegradation by 59 Hypoxylon isolates from diverse tea growing counties of Kenya on wood, from resistant (TRFK 6/25) and susceptible (TRFK 6/129) tea cultivars. The disease incidence varied (p less than or eqaul to 0.05) in different counties (6.7 to 77.5%) and was more prevalent in tea cultivars (77.5%) than seedling type of teas (15.7%). Bio-degradation of wood was performed in Falcon tubes for 40 days. The 59 Hypoxylon isolates significantly (p less than or eqaul to 0.05) bio-degraded tea wood. The weight loss ranged from 4.84 to 16.44% in the susceptible and 4.61 to 12.64% in the resistant cultivars. The results indicate the potential use of biodegradation to evaluate resistance of tea cultivars to damage by Hypoxylon sp. This study concludes that biodegradation is potentially usable technique to screen tea cultivars for resistance to HWR.