The potential for the Rapid Screening of Potato Cultivars (Solanum tuberosum) for Resistance to Powdery Scab (Spongospora subterranea) using a Laboratory Bioassay
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- Merz, U., Martinez, V. & Schwärzel, R. European Journal of Plant Pathology (2004) 110: 71. doi:10.1023/B:EJPP.0000010123.21255.d1
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Powdery scab of potato, once established in a field, is difficult to control because of the longevity of the resting spores (cystosori) of the causal organism, Spongospora subterranea f.sp. subterranea. Host resistance is likely to be the most efficient in a long-term control strategy for preventing build-up of field inoculum and spread of the disease. Resistance screening of potato cultivars is mostly done in laborious field trials where disease development is likely to be unpredictable. A bioassay with potato tissue cultured plantlets and cystosori as inoculum is described and was tested for its potential to screen potato cultivars at an early stage for their relative susceptibility to powdery scab by comparing the lab results with field data. With cystosori inoculum of Swiss origin, the laboratory test showed clear differences between the potato cultivars in the severity of zoosporangial root infection which correlated better with ranked tuber infection data, compared to root galling. There are apparent differences in the relative trends in susceptibility between roots and tubers of five selected cultivars when using naturally infested soil instead of prepared cystosori as inoculum in the lab bioassay. Furthermore, differences in the severity of zoosporangial root infection of two selected cultivars were found when cystosori from different countries where used as inoculum. A possible host genotype × pathogen interaction is discussed. The bioassay has the potential to screen and select for resistant material at an early breeding stage thus making field trials not unnecessary but more economical. It will allow the use of a standard set of pathogen collections and facilitate testing for inoculum virulence in infested soils.