Exploring Spongospora suppressive soils in potato production

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Factors influencing suppressiveness of soils to powdery scab of potato Feb 2021 Wright et al. 2021 Spongospora

Lead organisation Plant and Food Research Project Leader Richard Falloon.

Objectives: This project is investigating, in different field soils, previously indicated suppression of potato diseases (tuber powdery scab and root galling) caused by the pathogen Spongospora subterranea. The research focuses on fields in the North Island of New Zealand, where evidence exists of differences in conduciveness/suppressiveness to diseases caused by Spongospora. Laboratory and greenhouse experiments (Phase 1) will determine the extent of disease “suppression” that occurs, and (in parallel) characterise the physical, chemical and biological properties of the different soils. Phase 2 will aim to determine the mechanism(s) of disease suppression identified in the first phase of the study. These may include biological (and possibly transmissible) suppression, or chemical/physical general suppression (which may be manipulable).

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This work is being done in collaboration with Plant Health Australia and is examining field soils to determine if they suppress or encourage the quality- and yield-limiting potato diseases caused by Spongospora subterranean. These diseases include tuber powdery scab, root malfunction and root galling. Biological, chemical and physical soil factors are being measured in potato-growing field soils, and potential mechanisms for disease suppression are being assessed. The transferability of specific characteristics tonon-suppressive soils will be evaluated, to determine the potential for manipulating soil factors as a management strategy for Spongospora diseases.