Late Blight

Phytophthora infestans is considered the most important biotic constraint to worldwide production of potatoes. Losses exceed 5 billion dollars annually. In 2009, potato and tomato late blight epidemics in the US were the worst in modern history, due to a “perfect storm” of widespread inoculum distribution and conducive weather. Our team has developed a platform of surveillance tools that can be used to detect and identify the pathogen and genotype specific strains. We have established a surveillance system called USAblight to monitor P. infestans populations for pathogen genotypes and phenotypes including susceptibility to fungicides. Our system uses a web-based assessment network to provide current information to growers about late blight in the US. USAblight informs growers of the current threat and best management practices for the disease. We model landscape level migrations of the pathogen and provide data to US stakeholders concerned with management of this devastating disease. Our team is also working to deploy late blight monitoring tools globally. Late blight is an important threat to global food security, and potatoes are one of the top four staple food crops in the world.

Funding sources:

Judelson et al. 2010. Reducing losses to potato and tomato late blight by monitoring pathogen populations, improved resistant plants, education and extension. USDA NIFA 9,000,000, $597,478.

Ristaino, J. B. Cooper, D. and Boyles, R. Use of smartphone technology, isothermal diagnostics and disease early warning systems to detect emerging pests and pathogens on global food crops. CALS Enrichment Grant. $149,918.

Ristaino, J. and Anne Njoroge. Novel disease diagnostics and an early warning system for Phytopthora infestans for smallholder farmers in East Africa. USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, $40,000.