Pests and Diseases, Research

Spain: Potato mildew fungus identified for first time

Scientists of the Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development, Neiker-Tecnalia, have studied the genetic structure of the Phytophthora infestans, which causes potato mildew, and have identified for the first time in Spain the existence of genotype Blue13 (13_A2). The identification was carried out through genotyping with microsatellite markers (SSR). The finding has been the result of the doctoral thesis of agronomist Néstor Alor, presented at the University of Lleida and directed by Dr José Ignacio Ruiz de Galarreta.

The Blue-13 is the most aggressive Phytophthora infestans genotype currently present in Europe and has been detected in potato fields in the provinces of Álava, Orense and Tenerife. The mildew fungus is constantly evolving into more virulent and aggressive forms. This entails that the disease is increasingly more difficult to combat and control for potato producers.
Researchers at Neiker-Tecnalia have also identified two variants called Misc, found in samples from Álava and Cádiz. These variants do not match any other type described to date in Europe, which could mean that they are the result of sexual recombination of the two existing types of mating (A1 and A2). This possible cross would entail a significant change in the epidemiology of the pathogen in Spain. One of the isolates identified as Misc comes from a survey conducted by the Laboratory of Plant Production and Health of the Government of Andalusia located in Seville.
Furthermore, Neiker-Tecnalia has been detecting new physiological types of the pathogen in recent years, with a previously unobserved aggressiveness and resistant to certain active ingredients of the fungicides currently used to combat the disease. It is also noted that new types, in turn, are adapting to adverse weather conditions, allowing them to expand their range of action.
These changes in the populations of P. infestans should lead to greater efforts in the development of new potato varieties resistant to mildew. At the same time, the existence of early warning systems and the effective application of pesticides are necessary. In this sense, it is essential to combine various active ingredients to prevent the emergence of resistance in fungi, which are mainly the result of repeated use of the same active substance. (Source: Valencia Fruits)

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