, Volume 42, Issue 3-4, pp 577-583

Disease eradication and propagation of the initial seed potato material in Estonia

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Summary

The EVIKA Research Centre has developed a disease eradication system for the initial material of seed potato, which consists of 1. Selection of the initial material for eradication, plant thermotherapy, meristem tip cultivation and testing for viruses; 2. Re-eradication (thermotherapy of test-tube plants, cultivation of meristem tips, testing for viruses, testing of varietal quality and yield of disease-free meristem clones, and the selection of meristem clones with best varietal characteristics; 3. Renewing of the initial material (all processes as above, but the initial material is selected from the seed potatoes grown for at least 3 years in the field).

Field trials were conducted after the second cycle of eradiaction to determine whether the plantlets were true-to-type and to assess the yield, disease resistance and tuber dry matter. Recently we have also started in vitro testing of meristem plants resistance to late blight, hoping that this approach will improve the selection efficiency.

Propagation and growing of the seed tubers consists of 3 main steps: 1. Plantlet propagation in vitro; 2. Greenhouse propagation in plastic rolls; and 3. Planting the first generation tubers in the field. Under our conditions it is the cheapest, simplest and most effective way.

Multiplication of the meristem-derived plants is done by shoot tip cuttings in a greenhouse in plastic rolls with peat as the growing medium. The first generation of seed tubers is grown in the field. In our trials plant productivity was affected by the method of multiplication, growing conditions and genotype. The highest yield per hectare was obtained with plants multiplied in plastic rolls. The in vitro plants had more tubers per plant than plants multiplied in plastic rolls. In seed production fields the productivity of plants was more influenced by following our instructions than by multiplication and growing methods. The number of tubers per plant obtained with over 0.5 million plants was 6.5–9.0.

In the second generation of seed tubers, grown under equal density, the greater-sized tubers gave more tubers with lower weight than the smaller-sized tubers. Cutting tubers had no effect on the plant development and tuberization.