Pests and Diseases, Research

US: OSU partners on $3.2 million study to probe a costly potato pest

Dee Denver, a genomicist in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences, is working with scientists from Idaho, New York, Canada, France and Scotland on a five-year, $3.2 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The team includes Inga Zasada, a nematode expert with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and a courtesy OSU faculty member. The researchers are taking aim at potato cyst nematodes—microscopic parasites that burrow into roots of potato plants and suck out essential nutrients. While the nematodes don’t attack potato tubers, they parasitize the roots, sapping vigor and reducing yields by up to 80 percent. A key objective of the study, said Denver, is to find less environmentally damaging strategies for controlling the pests. Currently the most effective control measure is fumigation with methyl bromide, a highly toxic, ozone-layer-depleting gas that’s increasingly being restricted because of environmental concerns. More

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