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 also continue to track global lineages of the pathogen and study the evolution and origin of the P infestans.  We have established a surveillance system called USABlight to monitor P. infestans populations for pathogen genotypes and phenotypes including susceptibility to fungicides. The USABlight  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. USABlight also now features an SSR search engine to identify SSR genotypes of P. infestans based on genetic distance to known lineages using microsatellites. 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:

Ristaino, J.,  Wei, Q. and Jones, C.  2022. Deployment and field testing of a sensor integrated platform for monitoring emerging Phytophthora diseases.  APHIS Farm Bill. $273,187. PINS Radar 2023-1763.  8/1/2023-7/31/2024

Ristaino, J., Shymanovich, T. and Meadows, I. 2022. Smart farming using digital diagnostic sensors. NC Specialty Crop Block Grants.  $100,000.

Ristaino, J. B. , Delborne, J., Zering, K., Jones, C., Tateosian, L., Vatsavai, R., Ojiambo. P.,   Carbone, I, Meentemeyer, R., and Wei, Q. 2021. Real-Time Analytics to Monitor and Predict Emerging Plant Diseases. NSF PIPP, $1,000,000, 8/1/22-12/31/23.