Wireworm-Tolerant Potatoes

Wireworm

Editor’s Note: Much of this information is from a story by Jan Suszkiw of the Agricultural Research Service that was published in the September 2011 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Wireworm feeding damage is easy to spot, says Rich Novy, a USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant geneticist seeking to shore up America’s $3.3 billion potato crop. The damage resembles a nail hole that has been punched into the spud, pitting its surface and making it less appealing for use in fresh-pack or processing markets.

Organophosphate- and carbamate-based insecticides are available for use against wireworms on potato, among the most commonly used being ethoprop (Mocap, Bayer CropScience). However, the continued registration of some of these insecticides is uncertain, says Novy, who is in ARS’s Small Grains and Potato Germplasm Research Unit in Aberdeen, ID. Plus, the chemicals don’t always eliminate the slender, brownish-orange pests, which as larvae can survive beneath the soil for as long as five years before emerging as adult click beetles.

“That’s part of what makes them so problematic, they are able to just stay in the soil so long,” he says. “That’s why you can get a buildup of wireworms over time.”

South American Aid

Over the last several years, Novy, ARS plant pathologist Jonathan Whitworth, and former University of Idaho associate professor Juan Alvarez, who is now with DuPont, have looked for a solution to the problem in the form of genetic resistance. In particular, they’ve focused the attention on two wild relatives of cultivated potato obtained from Chile and Bolivia: Solanum berthaultii and S. etuberosum. Taking their cue from previous studies showing that the wild potatoes are resistant to Colorado potato beetles and green peach aphids, two disparate pests, the researchers decided to pit the plants against hungry wireworms as well.

To do this, the team crossed germplasm derived from the wild potatoes with a cultivated variety and then selected 15 top-performing plants from three generations of progeny. The researchers’ next step was to plant the progeny lines, called “breeding clones,” in wireworm-infested field plots in southern Idaho and compare the feeding damage they sustained to that of adjacent rows of susceptible Russet Burbank potatoes.

As the researchers had hoped, the resistant clones fared as well as — and sometimes better than — the insecticide-treated Russet Burbank potatoes. “Wireworms are really tough,” says Novy. “Even with chemicals, there isn’t complete control.”

Commercial Availability

At this time, the mechanism of resistance to wireworm has not been determined, but it may be related to glycoalkaloids. These naturally occurring chemical compounds in potato tubers are known to deter some insect pests. Total concentrations of glycoalkaloids in many of the resistant clones are at levels suitable for human consumption, which may open the door to their use in the development of wireworm-resistant commercial varieties.

Novy says they do have a clone, a long, typey Russet, that is derived from its wild relatives, but it hasn’t been tested to confirm that it has wireworm resistance. The potato is in the intermediate stages of development — if it is identified as being wireworm resistant and its agronomic characteristics make it acceptable for release as a variety, then that clone could be available to growers in five to six years. “I’m quite excited by this one clone,” he says. “It needs several more years of evaluations, but it looks promising.”

The team has submitted a paper on their research to the Journal of
Economic Entomology. Novy says that besides wireworm, they are working on resistance to other potato pests such as potato psyllid, to mitigate zebra chip disease, and nematodes, specifically potato cyst nematode and Columbia root-knot nematode, in collaboration with Chuck Brown of USDA-ARS at Prosser, WA.      

For more information on the potatoes used in this research, please turn the page

Pages: 1 2

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
OrangesScientists Center On Sweet Spot For Processed Oranges
January 24, 2015
Unique approaches and techniques being employed to sustain and squeeze more out of critical research. Read More
BerriesBerry, Berry Good [Opinion]
January 23, 2015
If you could plant any type of fruit, consider a caneberry such as a raspberry or a blackberry. Read More
NutsNew Nut Industry Equipment
January 23, 2015
These new products are designed to make a nut grower's life easier. Read More
FruitsJiffy Pumped To Introduce New Produce Propagation System
January 23, 2015
PreGro concept to make its debut at Fruit Logistica. Read More
Apples & PearsSurvey: Positive Indicators For Biocontrols In U.S. Horticulture, Agriculture
January 22, 2015
Preliminary results of a survey conducted in December 2014 of more than 850 readers across six Meister Media Worldwide titles Read More
CitrusAsian Citrus Psyllid Marches North In California Citrus Belt
January 22, 2015
Part of one of the richest agricultural areas in the U.S., Fresno County, has been quarantined. Read More
Apples & PearsReal-World Solutions Highlight First Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Tradeshow
January 22, 2015
Topping the inaugural event's marquee are presentations on “Driving Crop Quality and Productivity Using Biocontrols” by representatives from two of the largest produce growing organizations in the country. Read More
Food SafetyStill Plenty On The Plate Regarding Food Safety Modernization Act [Opinion]
January 22, 2015
Almost two years after originally being proposed, four revised rules are still being picked over. Read More
MarketingFlorida Citrus Commission Probes Federal Marketing Order For Orange Juice
January 21, 2015
Meeting to be scheduled for March to vet possibilities. Read More
Insect ControlExceptional Care Needed When Taking On Common Blossom Thrips
January 21, 2015
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this insect pest of vegetables. Read More
The Latest
OrangesScientists Center On Sweet Spot For Processed Oranges
January 24, 2015
Unique approaches and techniques being employed to sustain and squeeze more out of critical research. Read More
BerriesBerry, Berry Good [Opinion]
January 23, 2015
If you could plant any type of fruit, consider a caneberry such as a raspberry or a blackberry. Read More
NutsNew Nut Industry Equipment
January 23, 2015
These new products are designed to make a nut grower's life easier. Read More
FruitsJiffy Pumped To Introduce New Produce Propagation Syste…
January 23, 2015
PreGro concept to make its debut at Fruit Logistica. Read More
Apples & PearsSurvey: Positive Indicators For Biocontrols In U.S. Hor…
January 22, 2015
Preliminary results of a survey conducted in December 2014 of more than 850 readers across six Meister Media Worldwide titles Read More
CitrusAsian Citrus Psyllid Marches North In California Citrus…
January 22, 2015
Part of one of the richest agricultural areas in the U.S., Fresno County, has been quarantined. Read More
Apples & PearsReal-World Solutions Highlight First Biocontrols 2015 C…
January 22, 2015
Topping the inaugural event's marquee are presentations on “Driving Crop Quality and Productivity Using Biocontrols” by representatives from two of the largest produce growing organizations in the country. Read More
Food SafetyStill Plenty On The Plate Regarding Food Safety Moderni…
January 22, 2015
Almost two years after originally being proposed, four revised rules are still being picked over. Read More
MarketingFlorida Citrus Commission Probes Federal Marketing Orde…
January 21, 2015
Meeting to be scheduled for March to vet possibilities. Read More
Insect ControlExceptional Care Needed When Taking On Common Blossom T…
January 21, 2015
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this insect pest of vegetables. Read More
VegetablesTakeaways From The 2015 Empire State Producers Expo
January 20, 2015
From crop protection pointers to potato breeding, there was no shortage of learning opportunities at the New York show. Read More
NutsNo More California Walnuts For China
January 20, 2015
Although China stopped buying California walnuts, exports to India are on the rise. Read More
NutsMeet The IPM Expert: Emily J. Symmes, UC Cooperative Ex…
January 20, 2015
Area IPM Advisor Emily Symmes helps growers preserve profits, quality and environmental stewardship through sound IPM practices. Read More
NutsSustainability Seminars Planned
January 20, 2015
Almond Board of California hosts modules on grower/huller management practices. Read More
CitrusBayer CropScience Launches Latest Insecticide, Sivanto
January 20, 2015
New product delivers precision pest control to preserve the health of plants and protect fruit and vegetable crops. Read More
Food SafetyFood Safety Recall Survival Tips
January 20, 2015
Preparation is critical to ensure a smooth process. Read More
CitrusGrowers Should Stay Grounded When Reaching For Lofty Go…
January 20, 2015
Unmanned aerial vehicles are all the rage. Can and will this technology become a standard tool for farmers? Read More
Farm ManagementEcological Farming Association Conference Nears
January 19, 2015
The 35th annual conference will be held Jan. 21-24 in Asilomar, CA. Read More