Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

‘Smart soil bugs’ could help farmers tackle potato blight

Researchers say 'smart soil bugs' should help prevent blight in potatoes.

Farmers could reduce their reliance on chemicals to control potato blight and other crop diseases with the use of ‘smart soil bugs’, according to a new study.

Research, led by the Norwich-based plant science body, the John Innes Centre, has identified native, beneficial soil bacteria which could help farmers control crop diseases.

Scientists at the John Innes Centre isolated and tested hundreds of strains of Pseudomonas bacteria from the soil of a commercial potato field, and then sequenced the genomes of 69 of these strains.

By comparing the genomes of the different strains, the scientists were able to identify which strains suppressed pathogen activity, leading them to identify a key mechanism in some of the strains which protected the potato crop from harmful disease-causing bacteria.

Further experiments found that the production of small molecules – called cyclic lipopeptides – are important to the control of potato scab and they help the protective Pseudomonas move around and colonise the plant’s roots.

Researchers say the approach proposed in the study is applicable to potatoes and other crops.

“By identifying and validating mechanisms of potato pathogen suppression we hope that our study will accelerate the development of biological control agents to reduce the application of chemical treatments which are ecologically damaging,” said one of the study’s authors, Dr Alba Pacheco-Moreno.

“The approach we describe should be applicable to a wide range of plant diseases because it is based on understanding the mechanisms of action that are important for biological control agents.”

The study, published in eLife, proposes a method for researchers to screen the microbiome of virtually any crop site and take into account varying soil, agronomic and environmental conditions.

By using high-speed genetic sequencing technology, the researchers can screen the soil microbiome for therapeutic bacteria and work out which molecules are being produced to suppress pathogenic bacteria.

Dr Andrew Truman – a group leader at the John Innes Centre – says the study has paved the way for more sustainable disease control in potato crops.

He said: “We know these bacteria colonize the soil where potatoes grow, and they provide protection to the crop.

“Using a bacterium, you can easily grow and formulate it in an appropriate way and apply it to the field – and it is much greener than using a synthetic chemical.”

Gene in wild plant could hold key to blight-free potatoes

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]