Scientists develop new potato lines to wage war on wireworms

Sep 19, 2011

When wireworms feast on potatoes, the results aren't pretty: The spuds' surfaces are left punctured, pitted and unappealing. For the past few years, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their colleagues have sought a solution in the form of spuds with genetic resistance to the worms, with special attention focused on two wild potatoes from Chile and Bolivia: Solanum berthaultii and S. etuberosum.

Previous studies showed that the wild potatoes resisted Colorado potato beetles and green peach aphids, two very different pests. Given this broadspread resistance, the researchers decided to see how the fared against wireworms, which are the click beetle's larval stage.

To do this, the researchers crossed germplasm derived from the wild potatoes with a cultivated variety, and then selected 15 top-performing plants from three generations of progeny. Their next step was to plant the progeny lines, called "breeding clones," in wireworm-infested field plots and compare the damage they sustained with that seen in flanking rows of Russet Burbank potatoes-some treated with insecticide and some that hadn't been treated.

The results showed that the resistant clones fared just as well, and in some cases better than, the insecticide-treated Russet Burbank potatoes. The research has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Economic Entomology.

Growers now use organophosphate- and carbamate-based against wireworms, notes Rich Novy, a with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Small Grains and Potato Germplasm Research Unit in Aberdeen, Idaho. However, the continued registration of some of these insecticides is uncertain. Also, the chemicals don't always eliminate the slender, brownish-orange pests, which can survive beneath the soil for as long as five years before emerging as adults.

The researchers suspect called glycoalkaloids may be protecting the breeding clones. Fortunately, the total glycoalkaloid concentrations in many of the resistant clones are well below levels deemed harmful to consumers.

Explore further: Controlling the transition between generations

More information: Read more about this research in the September 2011 issue of Agricultural Research magazine. www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive… 11/wireworms0911.htm

Provided by United States Department of Agriculture

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Scientists seek blight-resistant spuds

Jun 03, 2010

Potatoes offering elevated levels of phytonutrients thought to promote health could add a new dimension to the consumer diet. But the journey from farm to fork can be a perilous one fraught with sundry microorganisms ready ...

Tough New Spuds Take on Double Trouble

Mar 03, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Americans love potatoes, consuming about 130 pounds per person annually. But it's a wonder the spuds even make it to the dinner table, given the many fungal diseases that attack the tuber ...

Spud origin controversy solved

May 15, 2007

Molecular studies recently revealed new genetic information concerning the long-disputed origin of the “European potato.” Scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of La Laguna, and the International ...

Recommended for you

Controlling the transition between generations

3 hours ago

Rafal Ciosk and his group at the FMI have identified an important regulator of the transition from germ cell to embryonic cell. LIN-41 prevents the premature onset of embryonic transcription in oocytes poised ...

Iberian pig genome remains unchanged after five centuries

Sep 17, 2014

A team of Spanish researchers have obtained the first partial genome sequence of an ancient pig. Extracted from a sixteenth century pig found at the site of the Montsoriu Castle in Girona, the data obtained indicates that ...

User comments : 0