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115R473 PhD Late Blight Models

Publication Date: 
30 August 2018
Author/Contact :
David Cooke

Contractor :
James Hutton Institute (JHI)

Full Research Project Title: Improved potato late blight management using sophisticated models of pathogen infection and spread
Duration: May 2014 - April 2017


James Hutton Institute (JHI)

Aims and objectives

Aim: To develop an accurate and predictive method of assessing blight risk across GB.


a) To establish and validate parameters related to pathogen infection and spread.
b) To incorporate the above parameters into existing mathematical models to provide a unique spatially explicit late blight forecasting system

Approach and conclusions

Previous AHDB Potatoes-funded work, using samples submitted by blight scouts, had shown that British late blight populations had changed over time (R274 Survey of GB Late Blight Populations). Subsequent AHDB Potatoes-funded work that attempted to explain this change using controlled environment experiments to investigate differences among the dominant genotypes in their response to weather conditions (R423 Blight Population Changes), although valuable, yielded conflicting results. No genotype consistently showed dominance in terms of weather-dependent infection criteria, or in terms of competition when multiple isolates are allowed to infect at the same time.

In this project a different approach was adopted whereby experimental work was combined with mapping and statistical modelling of existing AHDB Potatoes ‘Fight against Blight’ late blight outbreak data to develop a new national warning system for late blight; the Hutton Criteria. This approach lead to significant improvements over the previous warning system (Smith Periods), which showed great spatial variation in predictive power and performed poorly in some regions compared to the new system.

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