Potato crop effective management strategies to tackle future pest threats
Potato is a key crop in Europe (€12.4 billion, 2020). However, it is considered vulnerable to a variety of pests and soil-borne pathogen diseases. One of the most important pests is caused by bacteria Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum (CLso), and which disease is known as zebra chip (ZC). The introduction the CLso bacterium on potato is mainly linked to the presence of the vector psyllid Bactericera cockerelli (BC). Additionally, other threats (such as Fusarium sambucinum, Colletothricum coccodes, Helminthosporium solani) also affect potato safety and quality during the postharvest activities, making the tubers unmarketable.
The project PataFEST aims to preserve the health of potato plant against its emerging pests and the quality of the final product, consequently the Project PataFEST will i) characterize at molecular level the ecological pest spread pathway and identify potato disease resistance varieties against CLso and postharvest pathogens; ii) provide effective preharvest plant and soil treatments against CLso vector and soil-borne pathogens combined with other cutting-edge digital technologies such as image analysis tools (mobile app) and artificial intelligence predictive models; ii) develop postharvest technologies (biocontrol coating solution, controlled atmosphere storage and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) sensors) to control the incidence of soil pathogens and maintain the quality of potato tubers stored. All these three strategies and technologies will be incorporated into an integrated pest management (IPM) to validate their performance in a country-specific relevant environments (TRL5) in Germany, France, Spain and UK. In addition, Ecuador will host field trials against CLso and its vector BC. PataFEST will ensure a long-term strategy for tackling future potato pest threats by carrying out strong dissemination, communication and exploitation plan, with an overarching multi-actor approach.