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
Apples & PearsNew York Apple Growers Unveils New Organization Name
August 4, 2015
=New York Apple Growers (NYAG) has changed its name to Crunch Time Apple Growers.  The organization is comprised of 145 Read More
Apple Grower of the YearBill Dodd Is An Apple Grower For Our Future
August 3, 2015
The judging for the Apple Grower Of The Year award is an interesting process that takes us through new twists Read More
GenNext GrowersPotato Industry Leadership Institute Program To Be Held In February
August 3, 2015
The application and scholarship deadline is Oct. 15, 2015. Read More
Vegetables13 Of The Latest Pepper Varieties
August 3, 2015
This month’s variety specs feature focuses on pepper varieties. Features highlighted include great disease resistance packages, excellent yield potential, and more. Be Read More
Apple Grower of the YearBill Dodd, The 2015 Apple Grower Of The Year
August 3, 2015
  Informed of his selection as the 2015 Apple Grower Of The Year by American Fruit Grower® and Western Fruit Grower™ Read More
Farm ManagementLocally Grown The Lipman Way
August 3, 2015
With Lipman Local, the Florida operation has developed a mutually beneficial program that sources local produce around the country and helps smaller growers raise their game. Read More
Farm ManagementCorrect Misconceptions About Farming [Opinion]
August 3, 2015
Misinformation about agriculture abounds. We need to put a stop to it and set the record straight. Read More
UFR-2 Vernia citrus rootstock
Citrus Achievement AwardLessons Learned Via Citrus Variety Evaluation Never End
August 1, 2015
Orie Lee, the 2015 Citrus Achievement Award winner, discusses his decades-long involvement with Vernia. Read More
Florida Ag ExpoResearchers To Put 3 Major Crop Threats On Trial
August 1, 2015
Nematode, disease, and weed management on deck for the 10th annual Florida Ag Expo. Read More
woman smashing an alarm clock with a hammer
CitrusDon’t Become A Time Crunch Casualty
July 31, 2015
Finding the balance between work life and home life is easier said than done for GenNext Growers. Read More
The Latest
Apples & PearsNew York Apple Growers Unveils New Organization Name
August 4, 2015
=New York Apple Growers (NYAG) has changed its name to Crunch Time Apple Growers.  The organization is comprised of 145 Read More
Apple Grower of the YearBill Dodd Is An Apple Grower For Our Future
August 3, 2015
The judging for the Apple Grower Of The Year award is an interesting process that takes us through new twists Read More
GenNext GrowersPotato Industry Leadership Institute Program To Be Held…
August 3, 2015
The application and scholarship deadline is Oct. 15, 2015. Read More
Vegetables13 Of The Latest Pepper Varieties
August 3, 2015
This month’s variety specs feature focuses on pepper varieties. Features highlighted include great disease resistance packages, excellent yield potential, and more. Be Read More
Apple Grower of the YearBill Dodd, The 2015 Apple Grower Of The Year
August 3, 2015
  Informed of his selection as the 2015 Apple Grower Of The Year by American Fruit Grower® and Western Fruit Grower™ Read More
Farm ManagementLocally Grown The Lipman Way
August 3, 2015
With Lipman Local, the Florida operation has developed a mutually beneficial program that sources local produce around the country and helps smaller growers raise their game. Read More
Farm ManagementCorrect Misconceptions About Farming [Opinion]
August 3, 2015
Misinformation about agriculture abounds. We need to put a stop to it and set the record straight. Read More
UFR-2 Vernia citrus rootstock
Citrus Achievement AwardLessons Learned Via Citrus Variety Evaluation Never End
August 1, 2015
Orie Lee, the 2015 Citrus Achievement Award winner, discusses his decades-long involvement with Vernia. Read More
Florida Ag ExpoResearchers To Put 3 Major Crop Threats On Trial
August 1, 2015
Nematode, disease, and weed management on deck for the 10th annual Florida Ag Expo. Read More
woman smashing an alarm clock with a hammer
CitrusDon’t Become A Time Crunch Casualty
July 31, 2015
Finding the balance between work life and home life is easier said than done for GenNext Growers. Read More
PotatoesLate Blight Confirmed In Areas Of Idaho; Number Of Pota…
July 31, 2015
The number of potato psyllids decline while additional fields are noted as having late blight. Read More
Apples & PearsReTain Now Registered For Double Application
July 31, 2015
ReTain plant growth regulator (PGR) has been registered by EPA with a new label use that allows pome fruit growers Read More
Crop ProtectionLettuce Disease Gives E. Coli A Boost
July 31, 2015
E. coli prefer cut, injured, and young lettuce leaves. Read More
Farm ManagementAn Excellent Industry Education [Opinion]
July 31, 2015
The end of one era, and the ushering in of another. Read More
Stone FruitThe Strong Staying Power Of The Redhaven Name In Peache…
July 31, 2015
People tend to be nostalgic about peach varieties, but the switch of varieties grown by a region happens for a Read More
Crop ProtectionResources For Knowing Your Soil
July 30, 2015
Getting to know your soil and learning other environmental and natural resources data can be downloaded and is available for use with many computer software platforms for general resource analysis and farm management. Read More
money
CitrusBankrupt Florida Farm To Yield Plenty Of Land, Equipmen…
July 30, 2015
As many as seven different buyers could be part of this Chapter 11 proceeding. Read More
Sanjay Shukla
ProductionGeometrically Speaking, Thinking Smaller Might Produce …
July 30, 2015
University of Florida scientist develops compact planting bed formula that cuts water, fertilizer, and pesticide use in half. Read More