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Euroblight: A potato late blight network for Europe

Audio, summary and presentation of the lecture that Huub Shepers, Wageningen University and Research – Netherlands, presented at the XXVI Biennial Congress of the Latin American Potato Association (ALAP) in Bogota (Colombia).

Introduction

A European network of scientists and other specialists working on potato late blight (Phytophthora infestans) meet every 2 years.

The EuroBlight network combines two previous networks originating from European Concerted Actions and has 150 members.

EU.NET.ICP: “European network for development of an integrated control strategy of potato late blight” (1996-2000). Coordinated by Huub Schepers.

EUCABLIGHT: “A potato late blight network for Europe” (2003- 2006). Coordinated by Alison Lees.

The 14th Workshop in 2013 was hosted by the Cyprus University of Technology, Limassol, Cyprus. The Workshop was attended by 94 persons from 16 European countries, Russia, Chile, Argentina, China and Israel. Representatives from all countries presented recent research results regarding integrated control, decision support systems, resistance of varieties, late blight in organic potatoes and population biology of the late blight pathogen in potatoes.

The EuroBlight network has five subgroups:

  • Host resistance to P. infestans
  • Pathogen characteristics, population biology and genetics
  • Epidemiology, integrated control and decision support systems
  • Fungicides
  • Epidemiology and control of Alternaria spp.

The subgroups each arrange subgroup meetings during the workshops, organise harmonised protocols and co-ordinate and integrate European research on each topic.

Potato Blight mapped in Europe

A team of researchers tracking the 2013 P. Infestans population have, for the first time, spatially plotted its diversity and shown that some areas are dominated by clones, contrasting with other regions where novel, genetically diverse isolates, were found.

The project hinged on the distribution of ‘FTA cards’ to hundreds of disease ‘scouts’ from across the industry who, in the course of their work, visited blight-infected crops.

Disease lesions were pressed on the cards and returned to the laboratories where the pathogen DNA was analysed at Wageningen University and the James Hutton Institute, Dundee using the technology used in criminal forensics.

Despite a low disease pressure in 2013, over 795 samples were returned. This data also includes that from the Potato Council ‘Fight Against Blight’ campaign which monitors the pathogen in British crops.

The fingerprint patterns of all the P. infestans samples were collated and compared to those found previously.

In an exciting development, the data is being processed and, for the first time, mapped using tools developed by a team at Aarhus University.

EuroBlight Fungicide Table

EuroBlight evaluates the effectiveness of fungicide products/co-for- mulations for the control of P. infestans based on the highest rate registered in Europe. These ratings are decided by the Fungicides Sub-Group, and are based on field experiments and experience of product performance under commercial conditions.

EuroBlight Website

Results from the population monitoring 2013 as well as the Fungicide Table can be found on the website of the network (www.euroblight.net).

The proceedings and power point presentations from previous workshops are also available on this website.

Schepers, Huub1; Hansen, Jens Grønbech2; Lees, Alison3, Leiminger, Jürgen4
1 Wageningen University and Research. E-mail: huub.schepers@wur.nl

2 Aarhus University.
3 The James Hutton Institute.
4 Technische Universität München-Weihenstephan.

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