Epidemiology and integrated control of Potato Late Blight in Europe

R.J. Cooke, H.T.A.M. Schepers, A. Hermansen, R. Bain, N. Bradshaw, F. Ritchie, D.S. Shaw, A. Evenhuis, G.J.T. Kessel, J.G.N. Wander, B. Andersson, J.G. Hansen, A. Hannukkala, R. Naerstad, B. Nielsen

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139 Citations (Scopus)


Phytophthora infestans, the causal agent of late blight, is a major threat to potato production in northwestern Europe. Before 1980, the worldwide population of P. infestans outside Mexico appeared to be asexual and to consist of a single clonal lineage of A1 mating type characterized by a single genotype. It is widely believed that new strains migrated into Europe in 1976 and that this led to subsequent population changes including the introduction of the A2 mating type. The population characteristics of recently collected isolates in NW Europe show a diverse population including both mating types, sexual reproduction and oospores, although differences are observed between regions. Although it is difficult to find direct evidence that new strains are more aggressive, there are several indications from experiments and field epidemics that the aggressiveness of P. infestans has increased in the past 20 years. The relative importance of the different primary inoculum sources and specific measures for reducing their role, such as covering dumps with plastic and preventing seed tubers from becoming infected, is described for the different regions. In NW Europe, varieties with greater resistance tend not to be grown on a large scale. From the grower’s perspective, the savings in fungicide input that can be achieved with these varieties are not compensated by the higher (perceived) risk of blight. Fungicides play a crucial role in the integrated control of late blight. The spray strategies in NW Europe and a table of the specific attributes of the most important fungicides in Europe are presented. The development and use of decision support systems (DSSs) in NW Europe are described. In The Netherlands, it is estimated that almost 40% of potato growers use recommendations based on commercially available DSS. In the Nordic countries, a new DSS concept with a fixed 7-day spray interval and a variable dose rate is being tested. In the UK, commercially available DSSs are used for c. 8% of the area. The validity of Smith Periods for the new population of P. infestans in the UK is currently being evaluated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-222
JournalPotato Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • phytophthora-infestans population
  • a2 mating-type
  • genotypic diversity
  • northern-ireland
  • foliar aggressiveness
  • metalaxyl resistance
  • great-britain
  • r-genes
  • netherlands
  • cultivars


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