, Volume 126, Issue 2, pp 249-262
Date: 11 Nov 2009

Symptoms and yield reduction caused by Dickeya spp. strains isolated from potato and river water in Finland

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Biochemical characterisation of Dickeya strains isolated from potato plants and river water samples in Finland showed that the majority of the strains were biovar 3. They thus resembled the strains recently isolated from potato in the Netherlands, Poland and Israel and form a new clade within the Dickeya genus. About half of the Finnish isolates resembling strains within this new clade were virulent and caused wilting, necrotic lesions and rotting of leaves and stems. Similar symptoms were caused by D. dianthicola strains isolated from one potato sample and from several river water samples. Frequently, the rotting caused by the Dickeya strains was visible in the upper parts of the stem, while the stem base was necrotic from the pith but hard and green on the outside, resulting in symptoms quite different from the blackleg caused by Pectobacterium atrosepticum. The presence of Dickeya in the symptomatic plants in the field assay was verified with a conventional PCR and with a real-time PCR test developed for the purpose. The virulent Dickeya strains reduced the yield of individual plants by up to 50% and caused rotting of the daughter tubers in the field and in storage. Management of Dickeya spp. in the potato production chain requires awareness of the symptoms and extensive knowledge about the epidemiology of the disease.