Development of the basis for an innovative predictive quality system of potatoes on molecular analytical technology

Generating knowledge about molecular analytical tools for detection of diseases in dutch seed potatoes. To study the effect of those levels on disease development in trial fields in israel, and development of new resistant varieties.

One of the major problems the potato and seed-potato sectors are facing in recent years is growing concern with respect to the infection of seed potato tubers by pathogens. Lately, the latent presence of different pathogens is emerging as the main problem for the export of seed potatoes from Europe to ISRAEL and in ISRAEL. HZPC B.V., being the major exporter of potato seeds to ISRAEL, using its affiliate RZ RESEARCH B.V., and in collaboration with its Israeli partner HEVEL MA'ON ENTERPRISES, the largest Israeli potato grower and exporter, together with GILAT RESEARCH CENTRE (Israeli Agricultural Research Organisation), wish to join forces to study the possibility of applying novel molecular analytical tools to laboratory detection and quantification of disease propagules and tuber defects. Until now there has been a lack of knowledge about which diseases are present and at which levels they are present in potatoes which are transported from Europe to ISRAEL and back. Reliable and cheap detection technology is lacking, preventing routine quality assessment of seed potato lots. Furthermore, knowledge regarding the initial disease pressure and the final disease development is limited. In order to develop an innovative detection system, a 4-year study will be performed addressing the following issues: - The central issue of this study is to gain fundamental knowledge on how to apply and to combine newly developed detection protocols based on novel technology as real-time PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction), volatile-sniffers and spectrofotometric techniques. - The second issue is to gain knowledge about the relation between the initial amounts of pathogens detected on the seed tubers and the development of the diseases in the growing potato crop. Scientific questions to be answered in this study: - Are those novel molecular diagnostic technologies applicable to detect defects and pathogens on potato tubers? - Is this molecular detection approach a useful tool for quantifying disease levels on seed potato lots? - What is the relation between the amount of diseases detected on the seed lots by these tools and the subsequent development of diseases in the varieties planted in ISRAEL? The study can be broken down into three workpackages: 1) The set-up of an experimental laboratory unit with the PCR, GC/MS (Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometers) and NIRS (Near Infrared Technique Spectroscopy) to test and optimise the protocols developed elsewhere to detect the disease levels and internal tuber qualities, using standard pathogen cultures and artificially infested seed tubers. The study will focus on the diseases Fusarium, Streptomyces, Colletotrichum, Helminthosporium and Spongospora. 2) Laboratory research: Generating a baseline on seed potatoes for the quantification of diseases and defects. This includes the selection and evaluation of experimental seed lots, the detection of diseases and internal qualities both by using classical methods and the novel technology. This will result in a complementary set of robust protocols with required detection levels. The final step is the design of conversion tables, to translate the detected amount of disease signal to the equivalent practical initial disease pressure on the seed tuber. 3) Field research: Field experiments will be performed using the potato lots resulting from the former workpackage to study and describe the relationship between the initial amount of seed-borne pathogens and the subsequent development of the diseases in the field. These experiments will be performed in ISRAEL and in Europe, using five major potato varieties. In ISRAEL a main objective is to study the effect of elevated resistance in advance breeding clones of potato on controlling the disease. The final result of this applied scientific study will be the availability of knowledge and expertise. After completion of the project this will be used for the design of detection units in which all Dutch exported seed lots can be evaluated. Also to implement an innovative Decision Support System operated by the trading company HZPC to classify and select disease-free seed lots for the critical destinations. This will drastically reduce the problems with seed-borne pathogens in the cropping system in ISRAEL, resulting in the production of disease-free ware potatoes. Furthermore, these tools are suitable to predict the risk of disease development, which can be used in advising the farmers in advance to apply justified control measures. Finally, a major result for the Israeli potato sector is the development of at least one new variety with adequate resistance levels. Keywords: molecular detection, potato diseases, advanced disease control.
Project ID: 
3 211
Start date: 
Project Duration: 
Project costs: 
1 280 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Detection and Analysis methods
Market Area: 
Cultivation of cereals / crops / vegetables

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