Potato Pathology

Work Package 1.5 Potato Pathology

Scotland has a good international reputation for high health seed potatoes and a range of work is undertaken to maintain this reputation. Since seed potatoes form the start of the supply chain, high health starting material helps protect the health of material further down the chain.

The control of potato cyst nematodes (PCN), Erwinia, blight, powdery scab and viruses is still a problem for growers and the diseases they cause and controlling them represent an economic loss to Scotland. There is also concern over the impact of agrochemicals on the environment and the potential for new pests and pathogens being introduced via imports.

This work package aims to address these issues by developing improved crop management and protection, better diagnostics and considering the possible impact of climate change and future plant health risks.

Required outputs

  • Epidemiology to explain disease incidence for better management of PCN, late blight, Erwinia, powdery scab and viruses.
  • Development of crop protection strategies for key pests and diseases affecting Scottish crops, which will lead to a reduction in pesticide use and environmental impact.
  • Information on the nature of host resistance and susceptibility to key diseases affecting Scottish crops which will lead to the development of durable resistance in the field.
  • Development of appropriate sampling strategies, of field based diagnostics and of validated multiplexed diagnostics for key pests and diseases and interpretation for use by industry and/or government.
  • Consideration of the impact of climate change on crop health in Scotland and the identification of future plant health risks.
  • Knowledge transfer on best practice for crop health (in association with external funding).


Examples for progress towards the outputs in the potato pathology work package include:

  • population studies on P. infestans have identified the increase of a dominant genotype (13_A2) in GB, which is more aggressive than other isolates
  • novel sources of natural resistance to PVY and Pectobacterium in S. phureja have been identified
  • a novel diagnostic has been developed for the skinspot pathogen Polyscytalum pustulans
  • a report entitled ‘Impact of Climate Change on Pests and Diseases of Potatoes in Scotland: Risks and Recommendations’ has been produced
  • over 350 KT events have been delivered

A full report of progress can be found below.