Evolution of potato late blight investigated

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Evolution of potato late blight investigated

A CONSORTIUM made up of researchers and members of the potato industry have been tracking the distribution and diversity of dominant late blight clones in potato in Europe in 2020.

Plant scientists at the James Hutton Institute in Scotland, Aarhus University, Wageningen University and INRAE make up the EuroBlight consortium whih has tracked the European spatial distribution of Phytophthora infestans over the past eight years.

It has also contributed to a review into the development of the disease in Asia in the last 150 years, as part of global efforts to improve the sustainable production of healthy potato crops.

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It has compiled and published a report based on information from 1,221 samples collected in 28 countries and genotyped in 2020.

One of the study's leaders, James Hutton Institute researcher Dr David Cooke, said blight pressure in 2020 was lower than average, with a prolonged spell of warm, dry weather early in the season which checked the development of the disease in many regions. 

"The proportions of the main clones in the 2020 population structure were broadly similar to those reported in 2019. Three clones that first appeared in 2013 (EU_41_A2), 2014 (EU_37_A2, EU_36_A2) and EU_43, named in 2020, made up 40% of the 2020 population,” he said.

David and members of West Bengal State University and Queen’s University Belfast, have contributed to a review, into the development of potato late blight in Asia from 1870 to 2020. This has revealed that several clonal lineages of P. infestans have spread from Europe and, to a lesser extent, from North America, into Asia.

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