Potato (Solanum tuberosum) crops are grown on over 25,090 ha in Wisconsin annually. Late blight, caused by Phytophthora infestans (Mont.) deBary, is a potentially devastating disease that affects tomato and potato crops in Wisconsin every few years when inoculum is introduced and weather conditions favor disease. Incidence and severity of late blight are highly variable in these few years due to differences in pathogen clonal lineages, their timing and means of introduction, and weather conditions. Prevention of this disease through prophylactic fungicide application can cost producers millions of dollars annually in additional chemical, fuel, and labor expenses. Populations of P. infestans in the U.S. have recently undergone significant genetic change, resulting in isolates with unique clonal lineages and epidemiological characteristics (1). In 2010, late blight epidemics were of low severity in discrete portions of a few fields and were seen exclusively on potato in two counties of central Wisconsin. Symptoms included water-soaked to dark brown circular lesions with pale green haloes accompanied by white fuzzy pathogen sporulation typically on leaf undersides in high humidity conditions. Infected plants were collected by professional crop consultants and submitted to the authors at the University of Wisconsin Vegetable Pathology Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin. Eight isolates of P. infestans were generated from individual leaf samples, representing separate fields, by removing sporangia from sporulating lesions and placing onto Rye A agar amended with rifampicin and ampicillin. Axenic, single zoospore-derived cultures of isolates were generated from parent cultures and maintained on Rye A agar for further characterization. Mycelium was coenocytic with hyphal diameter of 5 to 8 μm (n = 50). Sporangia were limoniform to ovoid, semi- to fully papillate, caducous, had short pedicels, and were 36.22 × 19.11 μm (height × width; n = 50). The average length-width ratio was 1.91. Allozyme banding patterns at the glucose-6-phosphate isomerase (Gpi) locus indicated a 100/100/111 profile, consistent with the US-24 clonal lineage (3,4). Mating type assays confirmed the isolates to be A1 and intermediate insensitivity to mefenoxam was observed in vitro (4). Genomic DNA was extracted with a phenol:chloroform:isoamyl alcohol solution and restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis was performed using the RG-57 probe on a representative isolate and resulted in banding patterns consistent with US-24 (2,3). Clonal lineages of P. infestans documented in Wisconsin in previous epidemics included US-8 in the mid-1990s and US-1 in the 1970s. The US-24 (A1) clonal lineage was very widespread in the U.S. in 2010 and its presence in Wisconsin in the same year as identification of US-22 (A2) posed great concern for potential sexual recombination, oospore production, and soil persistence. Fortunately, the opposite mating types were separated spatiotemporally. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of the P. infestans clonal lineage US-24 causing late blight on potato in Wisconsin.
References: (1) K. Deahl. (Abstr.) Phytopathology 100:S161, 2010. (2) S. B. Goodwin et al. Curr. Genet. 22:107, 1992. (3) Hu et al. Plant Dis. 96:1323, 2012. (4) A. C. Seidl and A. J. Gevens. (Abstr.) Phytopathology 101:S162, 2011.