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
CitrusGMOs Might Be The Solution To Invasive Diseases [Opinion]
August 30, 2015
Huanglongbing is ravaging Florida’s iconic oranges and California's are at risk; we should not just stand by and watch the U.S. citrus industry dry up. Read More
BerriesRemoving Leftover Roots May Improve New Raspberry Crop’s Health
August 30, 2015
Soilborne pests and pathogens can be reduced by taking out last year’s red raspberry roots and crowns. Read More
CitrusMany HLB Finds In California
August 30, 2015
Scientists always said it was just a matter of time, but having an incurable disease like Huanglongbing infect the state’s citrus is jarring. Read More
NutsGrowers Claim Pistachio Trees Diseased – Nursery Maintains Problem Is A Genetic disorder
August 30, 2015
Whatever the cause, pistachio trees are suffering from Pistachio Bushy Top Syndrome, and tens of thousands of acres in California and Arizona will have to be replanted. Read More
CitrusFederal Judge Blocks Clean Water Rule
August 28, 2015
  According to RISE (Responsible Industry For A Sound Environment), a federal judge in North Dakota has blocked implementation of Read More
PotatoesUSDA Deregulates Late Blight-Resistant Genetically Engineered Potato
August 28, 2015
Agency cites no significant impact of special spud developed by J.R. Simplot. Read More
Food SafetyLawmakers Urge FDA To Help Small Farms With FSMA Compliance
August 28, 2015
Letter from members of Congress asks FDA to expedite assistance and training for small producers. Read More
FruitsSustainable Options For Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Control
August 28, 2015
The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), unfortunately, is here to stay. Found in the U.S. in the late 1990s, this Read More
FruitsA Breakthrough In Biotechnology And The Future Of The Fruit Industry
August 28, 2015
Researchers from California and Sweden have recently been honored for a discovery that could have big implications for the fruit Read More
FruitsWhat Makes A Flavorful Fruit?
August 28, 2015
These days, U.S. consumers are increasingly demanding good-tasting fruit and the industry is responding. However, there remains room for improvement Read More
The Latest
CitrusGMOs Might Be The Solution To Invasive Diseases [Opinio…
August 30, 2015
Huanglongbing is ravaging Florida’s iconic oranges and California's are at risk; we should not just stand by and watch the U.S. citrus industry dry up. Read More
BerriesRemoving Leftover Roots May Improve New Raspberry Crop’…
August 30, 2015
Soilborne pests and pathogens can be reduced by taking out last year’s red raspberry roots and crowns. Read More
CitrusMany HLB Finds In California
August 30, 2015
Scientists always said it was just a matter of time, but having an incurable disease like Huanglongbing infect the state’s citrus is jarring. Read More
NutsGrowers Claim Pistachio Trees Diseased – Nursery …
August 30, 2015
Whatever the cause, pistachio trees are suffering from Pistachio Bushy Top Syndrome, and tens of thousands of acres in California and Arizona will have to be replanted. Read More
CitrusFederal Judge Blocks Clean Water Rule
August 28, 2015
  According to RISE (Responsible Industry For A Sound Environment), a federal judge in North Dakota has blocked implementation of Read More
PotatoesUSDA Deregulates Late Blight-Resistant Genetically Engi…
August 28, 2015
Agency cites no significant impact of special spud developed by J.R. Simplot. Read More
Food SafetyLawmakers Urge FDA To Help Small Farms With FSMA Compli…
August 28, 2015
Letter from members of Congress asks FDA to expedite assistance and training for small producers. Read More
FruitsSustainable Options For Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Cont…
August 28, 2015
The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), unfortunately, is here to stay. Found in the U.S. in the late 1990s, this Read More
FruitsA Breakthrough In Biotechnology And The Future Of The F…
August 28, 2015
Researchers from California and Sweden have recently been honored for a discovery that could have big implications for the fruit Read More
FruitsWhat Makes A Flavorful Fruit?
August 28, 2015
These days, U.S. consumers are increasingly demanding good-tasting fruit and the industry is responding. However, there remains room for improvement Read More
FruitsMedfly Find Prompts Quarantine In Portion Of San Diego …
August 28, 2015
A portion of San Diego County has been placed under quarantine for the Mediterranean fruit fly (medfly) following the detection Read More
Golden Rice
CitrusAnti-GMO-Fueled Threats Force Reallocation Of Biotech E…
August 27, 2015
University of Florida officials say plans are to re-allocate a donation intended to improve the public’s understanding of science after Read More
ProductionNew Vegetable Grafting Technique Reduces Labor
August 27, 2015
Researchers patent a process to eliminate rootstock with the goal of making grafting more affordable in the U.S. Read More
money
CitrusMonsanto Drops Current Bid For Syngenta Acquisition
August 27, 2015
Even with a revised proposal that sweetened the pot to $46.2 billion, financial expectations still fall flat. Read More
Jim McFerson
Apples & PearsNew Director At Washington Fruit Research Center Has Fa…
August 27, 2015
Jim McFerson, former manager at the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, takes over at the Washington State University Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center. Read More
Apples & PearsIt’s Been A Tough Year For Pacific Northwest Grow…
August 27, 2015
So far, 2015 is not treating the Pacific Northwest tree fruit industry all that well. We knew the record apple Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateCalifornia’s Citrus Growers Face More Challenges Than H…
August 27, 2015
As a kid growing up we all remember the arrival of Barnum & Bailey’s circus. The ads, the posters, the Read More
Leafy VegetablesThe Latest Vegetable Varieties For Covered Production
August 27, 2015
Check out cucumber, pepper and tomato offerings available from DeRuiter, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Rijk Zwaan, and Syngenta. The greenhouse varieties are Read More