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Research: A quick and efficient hydroponic potato infection method for evaluating potato resistance and Ralstonia solanacearum virulence

Researchers say that potato, the third most important crop worldwide, plays a critical role in human food security. But, brown rot, one of the most destructive potato diseases caused by Ralstonia solanacearum, results in huge economic losses every year.

A quick, stable, low cost and high throughout method is required to meet the demands of identification of germplasm resistance to bacterial wilt in potato breeding programs, the researchers say.

In a recent scientific paper, researchers present a novel R. solanacearum hydroponic infection assay on potato plants grown in vitro. Through testing wilt symptom appearance and bacterial colonization in aerial part of plants, they found that the optimum conditions for in vitro potato infection were using an OD600 0.01 bacterial solution suspended with tap water for infection, broken potato roots and an open container.

Infection using R. solanacearum strains with differential degree of aggressivity demonstrated that this infection system is equally efficient as soil-drench inoculation for assessment of R. solanacearum virulence on potato.

A small-scale assessment of 32 potato germplasms identified three varieties highly resistant to the pathogen, which indicates this infection system is a useful method for high-throughout screening of potato germplasm for resistance.

Furthermore, the scientists demonstrate the utility of a strain carrying luminescence to easily quantify bacterial colonization and the detection of latent infections in hydroponic conditions, which can be efficiently used in potato breeding programs.

The scientists have established a quick and efficient in vitro potato infection system, which may facilitate breeding for new potato cultivars with high resistance to R. solanacearum.

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