Tuber and Stem Diseases/Conditions of Potato
Common scab may be caused by several soil dwelling plant pathogenic bacterial species in the genus Streptomyces, including S. scabies and S. turgidiscabies. In particular, S. scabies has been well documented as causing scab lesions. Streptomyces scabies infects a number of root-grown crops including radish (Raphanus sativus), parsnip (Pastinaca sativa), beet (Beta vulgaris), carrot (Daucus carota), as well as potato (Solanum tuberosum). The disease occurs worldwide wherever potatoes are grown. Although scab does not usually affect total yields, since the marketplace for potatoes is quality driven, the presence of scab lesions, especially those which are pitted, significantly lessens the marketability for both tablestock and processing varieties.
Fusarium Dry Rot
Fusarium dry rot is one of the most important diseases of potato, affecting tubers in storage and seed pieces after planting. Fusarium dry rot of seed tubers can reduce crop establishment by killing developing potato sprouts, and crop losses can be up to 25%, while more than 60% of tubers can be infected in storage. All the commonly grown potato cultivars in North America are susceptible to the pathogen, although some are less susceptible than others and several breeding lines have been reported to have a higher degree of resistance to dry rot.
Black dot, caused by Colletotrichum coccodes (Wallr.) Hughes., is a common disease of potato. It is most often observed on tubers but it can affect all parts of the plant. The disease has probably been underestimated in the recent past as the symptoms are similar to more common potato diseases. On potato foliage symptoms are nearly indistinguishable from early blight and on tubers it produces blemishes that are easily mistaken for silver scurf. Although not as serious as other more common potato diseases such as black scurf, silver scurf, or common scab, it can be more devastating as it affects all parts of the plant. Above ground it can infect the vascular system causing wilt, and below ground it can cause severe rotting of roots, shoots and stolons, leading to early plant decline, discolored tubers and reduced yields.
Piece Health Management
Seed-borne diseases of potato represent a significant constraint to
potato production in the US. Pathogens such as Phytophthora infestans
(late blight) and Fusarium
sambucinum (Fusarium dry rot), are major pathogens of potato affecting
tubers in storage and seed tubers and sprouts after planting. In severe
outbreaks the pathogens may kill developing sprouts outright resulting
in delayed or non-emergence. Reduction in crop vigor then results from
expenditure of seed energy used to produce secondary or tertiary sprouts
to compensate for damage to primary sprouts. Thus, the use of an effective
seed treatment in combination with good management practices during
cutting and seed storage prior to planting are essential to reducing
late blight and Fusarium dry rot, and secondary bacterial soft rot in
cut seed prior to planting.
Scurf and Rhizoctonia Canker
Both diseases are caused by Rhizoctonia solani. It rarely produces
spores (residing in the soil as sclerotia) and attacks a variety of
plant species. Rhizoctonia canker occurs when stolons contact
soil born fungal bodies. The fungus infects plant tissue and causes
stolon blinding thus reducing tuber production and yield. It also infects
tubers causing black scurf. This is purely cosmetic and does not reduce
yield. Control is achieve by seed treatments, rotations with non-susceptible
crops, clean seed, and possibly soil fumigation.
This diseased is caused by Phytophthora erythroseptica, a cousin
of the late blight pathogen. The pathogen does not infect foliar tissue.
Foliar symptoms of underground infections include wilting and chlorosis.
Tubers become infected through diseased stolons and show darkened diseased
area on the skin. The rotted tissues remain firm and become slightly
spongy. If the tuber is cut the tissue oxidizes to a pinkish tinge,
an easy diagnostic characteristic.
Late blight infection of tubers is characterized by irregularly shaped,
slightly depressed brown to purplish areas on the skin. These symptoms
may be less obvious on russet and red-skinned cultivars. A tan to reddish-brown,
dry, granular rot is found under the skin in the discolored area, extending
into the tuber usually less than 1/2 inch. The extent of rotting in
a tuber depends on the susceptibility of the cultivar, temperature and
length of time after the initial infection. The margin of diseased tissue
is not distinct and is marked by brown finger-like extensions into the
healthy tissue of the tuber. In time, the entire tuber becomes blighted
and discolored. Late blight rot of tubers is often accompanied by soft
rot, and in many cases more than one fungal pathogen may infect tubers
at the same time.
This is water mold 'fungus' that is in the same family as Phytophthora
infestans. Unlike P. infestans, Pythium does not infect
foliar tissue. This genus of pathogens attack a wide range of plants
and cause diseases like crown rots and damping off. They are general
soil saprophytes and can survive on soil debris. Infection occurs when
the fungus enters the tuber through a wound. The rot is encouraged by
hot weather and can lead to serious losses. Tubers show a general darkening
of the tissue and the presence of liquid exudates when compressed. Eventually
the pathogen degrades all but the outer shell of the tuber. Losses can
be minimized by harvesting in cool weather and allowing the potato skin
to develop before harvesting.
This disease is caused by Helminthosporium solani. Spores are
soil borne and cause brown lesions on the potato surface. These lesions
are primarily cosmetic. Symptoms develop under moist conditions and
often are not observed until the tubers have been stored for a period
of time. Control can be achieved by planting clean seed, harvesting
the tubers when mature, and storing tubers under cool conditions without
This is not a disease of any sort, but a physiological condition. Black
heart occurs primarily in storage when the tubers do not receive enough
oxygen. The tissue dies from the inside out and turns jet black. A smell
is absent. Increasing air flow and decreasing storage density can halt
this condition. The tubers will not recover once this has occurred.
Black Leg and Soft Rot
Both of these diseases are caused by pathovars of the bacterium Erwinia
carotovora. Other bacteria have also be found to be involved in
soft rot. The introduction of bacteria is always through a wound in
the plant tissue. Black leg is a rot of the lower stem region. This
is encouraged by cool, damp conditions. The bacteria may migrate through
the soil in water and can reside in plant residue for short periods.
The primary inoculum is infected seed. Soft rot occurs when the bacteria
gains access to the tuber through wounds and other entry points. These
can range from cultivator damages to fungal lesions. The bacteria dissolve
the cell walls and liquefy the tuber innards. No distinct smell is present
in true soft rot. Control is achieved by planting clean seed and rotating
the crop. Soft rot may also be caused by a true fungi, but this is rare.