Bacterium Identified as Potato Disease Culprit

Oct 14, 2009 By Jan Suszkiw
Bacterium Identified as Potato Disease Culprit
ARS studies have tied a new species of Candidatus Liberibacter bacteria to zebra chip (ZC) disease. Photo courtesy of Joseph Munyaneza, ARS.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Studies tying a new species of Candidatus Liberibacter bacteria to zebra chip (ZC) disease in potato should speed efforts to better protect the tuber crop from costly outbreaks.

Zebra chip is so-named because afflicted tubers form dark, unsightly stripes when they’re cut and fried to make chips or fries. However, eating them poses no consumer danger, according to Joseph Munyaneza, an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) entomologist who’s studied zebra chip since its detection in southern Texas in 2000.

The disease, which has spread to Arizona, California, Nevada and other western states, has caused millions of dollars in losses. In 2007, an ARS-led team completed studies identifying the psyllid, Bactericera cockerelli, as an insect that transmits ZC. Then, in early 2008, New Zealand researchers, followed by University of California-Riverside scientists, announced their discovery of genetic evidence suggesting that a new species of Candidatus causes ZC.

According to Munyaneza, with the ARS Yakima Agricultural Research Laboratory in Wapato, Wash., potato growers had been spraying their crops with to prevent psyllids from transmitting ZC. But until the 2008 discovery, they didn’t know what actually caused the disease—only that it correlated to psyllid feeding. Now, with evidence pointing to a Candidatus species, growers have more information to go on.

For example, testing psyllid populations for ZC at known overwintering sites could give growers located at the insects’ summer migration destinations early warning that there could be in danger of infection. Predicting psyllid migration could also help time the use of natural enemies.

Munyaneza and colleagues’ current studies include examining whether altered planting dates could diminish ZC’s severity. For example, 90 percent of potatoes planted in mid-December were infected with ZC by harvest in April, versus 25 to 30 percent infected when planted in mid-January or mid-February and harvested in May.

Read more about this research in the October 2009 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Provided by USDA Agricultural Research Service

Explore further: Man 'expelled from Croatia for punching monk seal'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

People only eat 1 when the chips are brown

Jul 16, 2008

Dr. Don Henne isn't wasting his degree when he's standing by the deep fryer waiting for potato slices to turn brown. He's conducting research that will help the potato industry and consumers.

CALS genomicists aim to save citrus from 'greening'

Jul 17, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- It has been a dismal two decades for the 450-year-old Florida citrus industry: On top of the constant pressure from hurricanes, a citrus canker epidemic shrank U.S. citrus production by roughly ...

Scientists Study Holstein Milk Production, Fertility

Oct 05, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have discovered why Holsteins—bred to produce more milk—are less fertile than before breeding efforts were stepped up to increase dairy production: ...

Squeezing More Crop Out of Each Drop of Water

Oct 09, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Studies in China and Colorado by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and cooperators have revealed some interesting tactics on how to irrigate with limited water, based on a crop’s ...

Recommended for you

Brother of Hibiscus is found alive and well on Maui

9 hours ago

Most people are familiar with Hibiscus flowers- they are an iconic symbol of tropical resorts worldwide where they are commonly planted in the landscape. Some, like Hawaii's State Flower- Hibiscus brackenridgei- are en ...

Boat noise impacts development and survival of sea hares

11 hours ago

While previous studies have shown that marine noise can affect animal movement and communication, with unknown ecological consequences, scientists from the Universities of Bristol and Exeter and the École Pratique des Hautes ...

Classic Lewis Carroll character inspires new ecological model

Jul 30, 2014

Inspired by the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, collaborators from the University of Illinois and National University of Singapore improved a 35-year-old ecology model to better understand how species ...

Saving seeds the right way can save the world's plants

Jul 30, 2014

Exotic pests, shrinking ranges and a changing climate threaten some of the world's most rare and ecologically important plants, and so conservationists establish seed collections to save the seeds in banks ...

User comments : 0