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Development of Potato Late Blight Epidemics: Disease Foci, Disease Gradients, and Infection Sources

August 1998 , Volume 88 , Number  8
Pages  754 - 763

Maarten J. Zwankhuizen , Francine Govers , and Jan C. Zadoks

First, second, and third authors: Laboratory of Phytopathology, Wageningen Agricultural University, P.O. Box 8025, 6700 EE, Wageningen, the Netherlands; first and third authors: C. T. de Wit Research School of Production Ecology; and second author: Graduate School Experimental Plant Sciences

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Accepted for publication 19 April 1998.

Natural potato late blight epidemics were studied to assess the relative impact of various inoculum sources of Phytophthora infestans in Southern Flevoland (the Netherlands) from 1994 through 1996. Disease surveys were combined with characterization of isolates for mating type and DNA fingerprint pattern using probe RG57. Seventy-four percent of the commercial potato fields with early foci were clearly associated with nearby infested refuse piles. Characterization of isolates from refuse piles and fields confirmed the association. Infected seed tubers, volunteer plants, and infested allotment gardens appeared to be of minor importance for late blight development in potato fields. Several foci in refuse piles, potato fields, and allotment gardens contained more than one genotype. Due to favorable weather in August 1994, infested organic potato fields became major inoculum sources, resulting in the spread of P. infestans to adjacent conventional potato fields. Analyses of disease gradients, both at the field and regional levels, confirmed the role of the organic fields as mid-season infection sources. The mean slope of field gradients downwind of refuse piles (point sources) was significantly steeper (100-fold difference) than the mean slope of field gradients downwind of organic fields (area sources). The genotypic composition of the P. infestans populations along the gradient and of the source populations in the organic potato crops did not differ significantly. Analysis of the region gradient revealed genotype-specific disease gradients. Control measures are recommended.

Additional keywords: conventional potato growing , oospores , organic potato growing , overwintering .

© 1998 The American Phytopathological Society