Field-scale molecular testing of virulent potato soft rot Pectobacteriaceae in Norway

Simeon Rossmann, Merete Wiken Dees, Torfinn Torp, Le Ving Hong, Monica Skogen, Borghild Glorvigen, J.M. van der Wolf, M.B. Brurberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Potato soft rot Pectobacteriaceae (SRP) cause large yield losses and are persistent in seed lots once established. In Norway, different Pectobacterium species are the predominant cause of soft rot and blackleg disease. This work aimed to evaluate the potential of real-time PCR for quantification of SRP in seed tubers, as well as investigating the status of potato seed health with respect to SRP in Norway. A total of 34 seed potato lots, including certified seeds, was grown and monitored over three consecutive years. All seed lots contained a quantifiable amount of SRP after enrichment, with very few subsamples being free of the pathogens. A high SRP prevalence based on a qPCR assay, as well as a high symptom incidence in certified seeds were observed, suggesting that current criteria for seed certification are insufficient to determine tuber health and predict field outcomes. Pectobacterium atrosepticum was the most abundant species in the examined seed lots and present in all lots. Consistently good performance of first generation seed lots with respect to blackleg and soft rot incidence, as well as low quantity of SRP in these seed lots demonstrated the importance of clean seed potatoes. Weather conditions during the growing season seemed to govern disease incidence and SRP prevalence more than seed grade. The impact of temperature, potato cultivar and Pectobacterium species on tuber soft rot development were further examined in tuber infection experiments, which showed that temperature was the most important factor in nearly all cultivars. Large-scale quantification of latent infection and predictive models that include contributing factors like weather, infecting bacterial species and cultivar are needed to reduce soft rot and blackleg.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-517
JournalEuropean Journal of Plant Pathology
Issue number2
Early online date10 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

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