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Wild Yeast Strains as Prospective Candidates to Induce Resistance Against Potato Late Blight (Phytophthora infestans)


The potential for crop destruction by Phytophthora infestans, the causal agent of the Late Blight of potato has not diminished since its impact led to the Irish potato famine. Potato production generally requires frequent applications of synthetic fungicides to hold this disease in check. As possible alternatives to fungicides, we investigated wild yeasts as bio-control agents. Ten strains of wild yeasts isolated from vineyards within Washington State were assessed for the ability to reduce effects of P. infestans in potato leaf assays, and for suppression of growth of selected plant pathogenic fungi in agar culture. Metschnidowia pulcherrima (Mp), Curibasidium pallidicorallinum (Cp), and Candida saitoana (Cs) strains applied to potato leaves prior to inoculation with P. infestans reduced symptoms in a manner suggestive of induced immunity. A narrow concentration range of Mp most favorably suppressed late blight symptoms. These and other wild yeast strains were shown to induce phytoalexin production in a pea system developed for monitoring nonhost resistance. Further work toward developing successful agricultural application of this biocontrol agent will require verification of resistance-inducing benefits under field conditions.


El potencial de destrucción del cultivo por Phytophthora infestans, el agente causal del tizón tardío de la papa, no ha disminuido desde que su impacto condujo a la hambruna irlandesa. La producción de papa generalmente requiere de aplicaciones frecuentes de fungicidas sintéticos para mantener a raya esta enfermedad. Como posibles alternativas a los fungicidas, investigamos levaduras silvestres como agentes de biocontrol. Se evaluaron diez cepas de levaduras silvestres aisladas de viñedos dentro del Estado de Washington para su habilidad de reducir los efectos de P. infestans en ensayos de hoja de papa, y para la supresión de crecimiento de hongos fitopatógenos selectos en cultivo en agar. Cepas de Metschnidowia pulcherrima (Mp), Curibasidium pallidicorallinum (Cp), y Candida saitoana (Cs) aplicadas a hojas de papa antes de la inoculación con P. infestans redujeron los síntomas en una manera que sugiere inducción de inmunidad. Una amplitud reducida en la concentración de Mp fue la que más suprimió favorablemente los síntomas del tizón tardío. Se mostró que estas y otras cepas de levaduras silvestres inducen la producción de fitoalexinas en un sistema de chícharo desarrollado para el monitoreo de la resistencia de no hospedante. Trabajo a futuro hacia el desarrollo de la aplicación agrícola exitosa de este agente de biocontrol requerirá verificación de los beneficios de la inducción de la resistencia bajo condiciones de campo.

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We thank Lei Zhang and Pat Okubara for the review of this manuscript. PPNS #0668, Department of Plant Pathology, College of Agricultural Human and Natural Resources Sciences, Agr. Res. Center, Hatch Project No. WNPO3847. These experiments comply with the current laws of the U.S.A. where they were performed.

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Correspondence to Lee A. Hadwiger.

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Hadwiger, L.A., McDonel, H. & Glawe, D. Wild Yeast Strains as Prospective Candidates to Induce Resistance Against Potato Late Blight (Phytophthora infestans). Am. J. Potato Res. 92, 379–386 (2015).

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  • Biological control
  • Induced immunity
  • Phytoalexin
  • Fungicide alternative
  • Organic