USDA’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) recently announced funding ($6.8M) for Potatoes and Pests – Actionable Science Against Nematodes (nicknamed PAPAS). The PAPAS team will engage in a four-year research project to provide growers with the best management practices for controlling infestations of both root knot and potato cyst nematodes in potato fields. Successful completion will result in several tools for growers:
- Molecular diagnostics, thresholds, and decision support systems
- Plant defenses and the development of resistant varieties
- Novel nematicidal chemistries
- Passing it along, engaging stakeholders
The group aims to increase awareness about nematode damage thresholds, nematicides and fumigants, deployment of resistance strategies, and improved nematode diagnostic methods. Additional activities will include training growers and future professionals (e.g., nematologists, plant scientists, and economists) on nematode best practices. Growers will benefit from this project by applying information from the PAPAS team to improve nematode management practices, increasing yields and profit.
The project encompasses four main objectives, and each year has a focus area, including thresholds for detection, damage, and economic harm; deployment of resistance and plant defenses; developments of novel nematicidal chemistries and action plans for their use; and providing decision support models to engage the industry in best management practices.
- Objective 1: Improving Diagnostics and Implementing Predictive Modes for Decision Support – Decision support tools for growers and other industry members affected by nematode infestations will be developed by deploying improved diagnostics and predictive models.
- Objective 2: Mining Plant Defenses and Deployment of Novel Resistance – The development of potato varieties with nematode resistance will be accelerated by increasing the understanding of plant defense genes and using marker-assisted breeding to develop resistant varieties.
- Objective 3: Planning for the Future Through Smart Nematicide Chemistries – The team has identified a plant species, Solanum sisymbriifolium, that is toxic to many nematodes. These will become purified for novel nematicide production.
- Objective 4: Passing It Along – Engaging Our Stakeholders – Information gained from this project will be shared with the industry so they can adopt an integrated systems approach for effective nematode management.
PAPAS is spear-headed by Prof. Louise-Marie Dandurand (Project Director) from the University of Idaho, and Co-Project Directors: Joe Kuhl and Philip Watson from the University of Idaho, Cynthia Gleason from Washington State University, Marisol Quintanilla from Michigan State University, and Inga Zasada from USDA-ARS Corvallis.
The team is comprised of a total of 17 Principal Investigators (PIs) from six institutions who each work on one or more objectives.
“We’re an enthusiastic group of researchers ready to deliver solutions to potato growers dealing with nematode infestations,” says Prof. Louise-Marie Dandurand.