Match potato varieties to local nematode populations, say researchers

A new study has mapped different population types of potato cyst nematode (PCN) with "unprecedented" accuracy, helping growers select less susceptible potato varieties in future.

Image: United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
Image: United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

The PCN species Globodera pallida is a significant threat to UK potato production and is a particular concern for the protection of seed potato land in Scotland, but UK populations of the nematode differ in their ability to reproduce on different potato cultivars.

Researchers from the James Hutton Institute (JHI), Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA), Scottish Agronomy and the universities of Dundee, Leeds, Edinburgh and St Andrews, have developed a technique to help growers choose the most appropriate potato varieties for cultivation, by countering the type of G.pallida in a field with the cultivar exhibiting the most resistance to it.

It builds work by JHI and SASA that introduced the first high-throughput molecular screening approach in Europe for PCN surveillance of soils.

Lead author of the study Dr Sebastian Eves-van den Akker of Dundee University said: "While developing a method for accurate, quantitative typing of PCN in a thousand fields simultaneously, we have also revealed insights into the national genetic diversity of an economically important pest."

The impact of PCN on the UK the potato industry has been estimated at £50 million a year.

James Hutton Institute research theme leader Professor Ian Toth said: "With continued reductions in the availability of nematicides, new sustainable solutions are desperately needed to control these economically important pests.

"This ground-breaking research is the first step towards finding an alternative strategy towards pest control that will ensure a vibrant future for the potato industry."

The paper "A metagenetics approach to determine the diversity and distribution of cyst nematodes at the level of the country, the field and the individual" will be published in the December issue of the journal Molecular Ecology.


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

How will reduced apple and pear harvests hit the industry?

How will reduced apple and pear harvests hit the industry?

This spring, many top-fruit growers in the UK and across Europe were dismayed to discover that swathes of their orchards had been hit by frost.

How should fruit growers prepare for water abstraction reform?

How should fruit growers prepare for water abstraction reform?

Upcoming reforms to water abstraction licensing will for the first time cap the amount of water that fruit growers can take for trickle irrigation.

Getting a measure of the production labour crisis

Getting a measure of the production labour crisis

At a debate during last week's Fruit Focus trade show in Kent, senior industry figures painted a bleak picture of an increasingly difficult seasonal labour market that is already impacting on investment.