Potato famine phytophthora is more virulent

decrease font size  Resize text   increase font size       Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article


The plant pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine in the 1840s lives on today with a different genetic blueprint and an even larger arsenal of weaponry to harm and kill plants.

In a study published in the journal Nature Communications, North Carolina State University plant pathologist Jean Ristaino and colleagues Mike Martin and Tom Gilbert from the University of Copenhagen compared the genomes, or sets of all genes, of five 19th century strains of the Phytophthora infestans pathogen with modern strains of the pathogen, which still wreaks havoc on potatoes and tomatoes.

The researchers found that the genes in historical plant samples collected in Belgium in 1845 as well as other samples collected from varied European locales in the late 1870s and 1880s were quite different from modern-day P. infestans genes, including some genes in modern plants that make the pathogen more virulent than the historical strains.

In one example, a certain gene variant, or allele, called AVR3a that was not virulent in the historical samples was shown to be virulent in the modern-day samples.

“The genetic blueprints, or genotypes, of the historical strains were distinct from modern strains, and genes related to infection were also quite different,” Ristaino says. “In the areas of the genome that today control virulence, we found little similarity with historical strains, suggesting that the pathogen has evolved in response to human actions like breeding more disease-resistant potatoes.”

Some of the differences between the European historical samples from the 1840s and the 1870s and 1880s suggest that the pathogen was brought to Europe more than once, debunking the theory that the pathogen was introduced once and then expanded its range. Ristaino believes it was introduced to Europe multiple times, probably from South American ships.

P. infestans caused massive and debilitating late-blight disease outbreaks in Europe, leaving starvation and migration in its wake after ravaging Ireland in the mid-to-late 1840s. Ristaino’s previous work pointed the finger at the 1a strain of P. infestans as the Irish potato-famine pathogen and traced its probable origin to South America.

An estimated $6.2 billion is spent each year on crop damage and attempts to control the pathogen, Ristaino says.

“Late blight is still a major threat to global food security in the developing world,” she adds. “Knowing how the pathogen genome has changed over time will help modern-day farmers better manage the disease.”


Buyers Guide

Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Co.
Doyle Equipment Manufacturing prides themselves as being “The King of the Rotary’s” with their Direct Drive Rotary Blend Systems. With numerous setup possibilities and sizes, ranging from a  more...
A.J. Sackett Sons & Company
Sackett Blend Towers feature the H.I.M, High Intensity Mixer, the next generation of blending and coating technology which supports Precision Fertilizer Blending®. Its unique design allows  more...
R&R Manufacturing Inc.
The R&R Minuteman Blend System is the original proven performer. Fast, precise blending with a compact foot print. Significantly lower horsepower requirement. Low inload height with large  more...
Junge Control Inc.
Junge Control Inc. creates state-of-the-art product blending and measuring solutions that allow you to totally maximize operating efficiency with amazing accuracy and repeatability, superior  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The flagship blending system for the Layco product line is the fully automated Layco DW System™. The advanced technology of the Layco DW (Declining Weight) system results in a blending  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The LAYCOTE™ Automated Coating System provides a new level of coating accuracy for a stand-alone coating system or for coating (impregnating) in an automated blending system. The unique  more...
John Deere
The DN345 Drawn Dry Spreader can carry more than 12 tons of fertilizer and 17.5 tons of lime. Designed to operate at field speeds up to 20 MPH with full loads and the G4 spreader uniformly  more...
Force Unlimited
The Pro-Force is a multi-purpose spreader with a wider apron and steeper sides. Our Pro-Force has the most aggressive 30” spinner on the market, and is capable of spreading higher rates of  more...
BBI Spreaders
MagnaSpread 2 & MagnaSpread 3 — With BBI’s patented multi-bin technology, these spreaders operate multiple hoppers guided by independent, variable-rate technology. These models are built on  more...


Comments (0) Leave a comment 

Name
e-Mail (required)
Location

Comment:

characters left


RoGator® Direct Chemical Injection

Direct chemical injection is a key benefit available with RoGator RG900, RG1100 and RG1300 sprayer models. This optional system saves ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Feedback Form