Arash Rashed, University of Idaho, Aberdeen R&E Center, Aberdeen 83210, and Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, Amarillo 79109; and
Li Paetzold, and
Charles M. Rush, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, Amarillo
Zebra chip (ZC) is a disease of potato, putatively caused by the vectorborne bacterium ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’. Although ZC has been a major concern due its significant negative impact on both potato yield and quality, its effect on seed potato sprouting has been the subject of recent evaluations. The present study was conducted to determine whether variation in emergence is affected by the infection duration of ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’-infected seed potato prior to harvest. Furthermore, changes in pathogen detectability and titer levels in late-season-infected plants also were evaluated during and after cold storage. The rate of ZC-affected seed potato emergence following cold storage was not affected by the time of infection in the field, and the majority of ZC-infected tubers failed to sprout. Time to “seedling” emergence also was significantly longer in seed potato from plants infected ≥2 weeks before harvest. The small percentage of plants that emerged from ZC-affected seed potato produced stunted, nonvigorous plants that often died after a few weeks. The rate of successful ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ detection increased during cold storage, suggesting a continued ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’–tuber interaction postharvest. After tubers were removed from cold storage and held at room temperature, ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ titer started to increase. Although none of the tubers from plants infected 1 week before harvest exhibited any disease symptoms or tested positive for ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ at harvest, up to 38% of these tubers tested positive following placement at room temperature after cold storage. Results of this study suggest that the role of seedborne ZC in disease epidemiology is likely to be insignificant. Furthermore, the findings of this study emphasized the importance of continued control measures until at least a week before harvest, and highlighted the need for improved methods of ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ detection at harvest, especially in tubers infected late in the season.