Idaho Research Focused On Potato Viruses

Entomologists from the University of Idaho are leading ten state research project focused on two viruses that can devastate seed potato farmers. U of I professor and project leader Alexander Karasev says one of their targets is Potato Mop Top Virus, which has been found in six states.

“The second virus is Potato Virus Y. It can lead to a downgrade of seed potato loads. But also, a potato [infected with Potato Virus Y] may induce a disease which is called Potato Tuber Necrotic Ringspot Disease, which can make fresh market tubers completely unusable.”

Karasev added in the short term, researchers are looking to provide recommendations and tools to give growers a chance to control the virus.

“We also have a long-term component in this proposal through breeding to try to develop potato cultivars that are resistant to both viruses. We also have a component that is economical and social in trying to educated growers on the availability of different tools that can mitigate this problem.”

According to a U of I study, Potato Virus Y costs the Gem state roughly $34 million in annual losses. The four year project is funded by a nearly $5.8 million USDA grant.

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