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Doctoral thesis2019Open access

Population structure and pathogenicity evolution of Phytophthora infestans affects epidemiology and management of late blight disease

Njoroge, Anne


Sound management of late blight, the disease caused by the notorious oomycete pathogen Phytophthora infestans (Mont.) de Bary, is dependent on the pathogen’s population biology. However, for P. infestans population structure to give guidance for disease management, successful information flow between the researchers and the practitioners is paramount. We analysed the population in eastern-Africa to determine the pathogen genotypes present in the region. We characterized the isolates using microsatellite markers and mitochondrial DNA haplotypes to enable comparisons with global populations. A European lineage, 2_A1 was found to be dominating the population in eastern-Africa. In addition, the 2_A1 lineage was found to be more aggressive in terms of lesion size, latent periods and incubation periods when compared to the old US-1 lineage. We thus concluded that the tested aggressiveness traits could have partly contributed to the quick displacement of US-1 by 2_A1 in the region. In a study predicting host durability of a genetically engineered potato with a stack of three resistance genes as well as a conventionally bred potato with a stack of five resistance genes, the assessment of pathogen effector genes proved valuable to deduce which of the R-genes were functional in the field. From the effector study, it can be concluded that effector genes in target local P. infestans populations should inform selection of breeding materials since globally, pathogen populations are very diverse. An assessment of commonly grown potato cultivars in eastern-Africa to quantify their susceptibility to late blight in the field found out that nearly all cultivars had partial resistance to P. infestans. The growers’ choice of cultivars is to high degree governed by market demands. Unfortunately, many cultivars with good resistance to late blight have other undesirable agronomic traits hence the rationale behind growing cultivars that are highly susceptible to late blight. Disease management practices, host durability prediction tools and potato breeding approaches should be suitably adjusted to the existing pathogen population.


late blight; SSR-genotyping; gene pyramiding; effectors; host resistance

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2019, number: 2019:14ISBN: 978-91-7760-346-7, eISBN: 978-91-7760-347-4
Publisher: Department of Forest Mycology and Plant Pathology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Genetics and Breeding

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