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1100007 Optimised Detection and Control of Potato Blight

Publication Date: 
7 March 2019
Author/Contact :
Stuart Wili

Contractor :
Burkard Manufacturing Co Ltd

Reference :

Reference number: 

Full Research Project Title: Optimised detection and control of potato blight: sensing pathogens to inform smart spray decisions
Duration: April 2015 - March 2018


Rothamsted Research, James Hutton Institute, Burkard Manufacturing, Frontier Agriculture, G’s Fresh Ltd and Velcourt


This project specifically targets late blight (Phytophthora infestans), and early blight (Alternaria spp (A. solani and A. alternata)). Both diseases, and in particular late blight, are controlled by repeated (and potentially wasted) application of fungicides. Current practice is to apply late blight fungicides prophylactically in a 7-10 day programme throughout the growing season. A key objective of the project is to reduce the number of unnecessary fungicide applications applied early in the growing season. The project will also investigate the relative abundance of Alternaria spp. and fungicide resistant strains, having important implications for the choice of product for combined late/early blight control. This project has been awarded funding from Innovate UK, with co-funding from AHDB Potatoes.


Aim: To detect late and early blight to enable site specific fungicide spray treatments, protect crop yield, decrease costs, minimise environmental impact and reduce residues.

Detection and monitoring will involve collecting samples simultaneously in conventional Hirst and rotorod spore trap. This is to be followed by processing in the laboratory which would provide validation and for the first time, multiple site/year datasets of airborne spore occurrence, which will be related to disease at trial sites.  This will inform risk modelling, allowing exposure to inoculum to be equated to experimental and commercial disease surveillance data.

The innovative aspects include: the development of new LAMP assays for P. infestans and Alternaria species with specific identification of known genotypes or fungicide resistant mutants; optimised air sampling strategies for P.infestans and Alternaria species at the farm and field scale, producing multiple site/ year datasets of airborne spore occurrence to inform risk modelling for the first time; development of a new prototype device that will sample airborne spores, automatically process the sample using the LAMP assays, quantify DNA by fluorescence and relay results by mobile phone text message.  

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