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Researchers review the spread of late blight across Asia over a century and a half

Researchers Sanjoy Guha Roy, Tanmoy Dey, David E. L. Cooke and Louise R. Cooke recently published this review in the journal Plant Pathology. In a news article for the The British Society for Plant Pathology (BSPP) the research team writes they have scoured the literature to report on the dynamics of Phytophthora infestans (1870-2020) that has shadowed the expansion of potato cropping.

“We show clear evidence of the spread to Asia of several clonal lineages of P. infestans from Europe and, to a lesser extent, North America,” the research team writes.  “While spread may occur locally via airborne spores, most long-distance spread is via the trade in seed potato tubers with very low-level, cryptic infection by P. infestans.  

“The pathogen lineage EU_13_A2, for example, first found in Europe in 2004, was reported in China and India by 2005 and 2008, respectively. 13_A2 is highly aggressive and resistant to metalaxyl, a key fungicide active ingredient used in blight management.  Its invasive spread has caused major crop losses and has even been associated with suicides among potato farmers.”

The research team points out that Asia covers a vast area: researchers may be geographically and politically isolated and their findings, brought together in this review, often not easily accessed. Plant pathogens, however, know nothing of man-made borders; international research co-operation is vital for their effective management. 

Starting with EuroBlight (www.euroblight.net), international scientific networks are being established across the world to fight late blight. Now AsiaBlight (www.asiablight.org) is bringing together researchers from across Asia, promoting co-operation and data sharing with the goal of improving sustainable production of healthy potato crops. 

The researchers express the hope that their review will help achieve this.

The review paper can be found in Plant Pathology, titled: The dynamics of Phytophthora infestans populations in the major potato‐growing regions of Asia – A review

Source: British Society for Plant Pathology (BSPP). Full article here
Cover image: Published by the BSPP with permission of the authors.

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