MBIE Psyllid Project

Realising potato export growth through sustainable management of the zebra chip disease complex


This programme addresses the major problem affecting the NZ potato industry, the recently arrived Tomato Potato Psyllid/Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum (TPP/Lso) complex, and is developing effective control measures and resistant potato cultivars for sustainable management of the TPP/Lso incursion.


Start date 01/10/2013, end date 30/09/2019, total contract value $6,665,400.00


The multidisciplinary team of Plant and Food Research scientists and international collaborators is studying the insect-pathogen interaction at levels ranging from the population to the molecular.


Key areas of research activity, are:

  1. Development of disruptant/attractant-based tools through understanding psyllid sensory cues;
  2. Providing better management information through understanding TPP population genetics and Lso association, as well as insecticide resistance status of TPP;
  3. Making progress toward developing resistant or tolerant potato cultivars using the information gained by understanding the potato plant’s responses to TPP and Lso in primary and secondary metabolism and in defence pathways; and
  4. Stakeholder communication to ensure technology transfer and uptake.

The outcomes of the programme will be achieved via several pathways involving growers, the processing industry, pest control companies and the joint Potatoes NZ Inc./Plant and Food Research breeding programme.

Benefits to the Maori economy will accrue through increased opportunities to participate in the growing potato industry and a return to production of Taewa (Maori potato), which has also been affected by the TPP/Lso complex.

Contact for further information – Gail Timmerman.