In most developing countries, farmers lack sufficient supply of certified or healthy potato seed tubers. Hence, they often plant their own saved ware potato tubers, a practice that is known to contribute to spread and increase the prevalence of plant viruses. In this study, we proposed options for managing the virus based on the knowledge obtained from surveys of virus prevalence and distribution in potato cultivars grown under such conditions. Potato leaf samples randomly collected from 354 farms in five major potato-growing counties in Kenya were tested for six potato viruses; potato virus Y (PVY), potato leaf roll virus (PLRV), potato virus X (PVX), potato virus M (PVM), potato virus A (PVA) and potato virus S (PVS) through DAS-ELISA. Virus prevalence in the fields was high; 72.9% of the samples were positive for at least one of the six viruses; and 55.9% showed multiple infections. A follow-up survey conducted during three consecutive seasons, in two of the five counties, revealed that virus prevalence fluctuated across seasons. This suggested that updated information on virus prevalence might be of value for designing a virus control strategy. Distribution maps showed the presence of the viruses restricted to specific geographic regions, an indication of where control efforts should be directed. Four cultivars, Sherekea, Shangi, Kenya Karibu and Asante, grown at a high virus-prevalent area, showed low values of average ELISA absorbance (OD), suggest a field resistance to the viruses. This study demonstrated that knowledge of prevalence and distribution may be of value to identify and recommend virus resistant cultivars to replace susceptible ones, especially in the virus hotspot areas.
- Potato (Solanum tuberosum)