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Fungal, oomycete, and plasmodiophorid diseases of potato.

This chapter discusses the major potato diseases worldwide: late blight, early blight, wart, and powdery scab. Late blight, caused by the oomycete Phytophthora infestans, continues to be the main biotic constraint of potato production. Annual losses have been estimated to be about €6.1 billion, with major consequences to food security, especially in developing countries. Symptoms of the disease can be seen in leaves (water-soaked light to dark brown spots), stems (brown spots), and tubers (slightly depressed areas with reddish-brown color). High humidity and mild temperatures are essential for disease development and, under optimal conditions, the disease can destroy a field in a few days. Phytophthora infestans evolves continuously, mainly through recombination and migration from other areas. Thus, monitoring of P. infestans populations is critical for the design of effective management strategies. Fungicides remain as the most common tactic for late blight management, but environmental considerations are increasing the pressure to use host resistance, sanitation, and other measures. New solutions being developed to manage late blight include, among others, smart phone-based decision support systems linked to portable molecular diagnostics kits that can disseminate disease information rapidly to a large number of farmers. Emerging research topics on P. infestans include the role of the pathogen–microbiota interaction in promotion or suppression of the disease, as well as the metabolism of P. infestans. The fungus Alternaria solani is the main pathogen causing early blight on potatoes. Early blight can be found in most potato-growing countries. Typical symptoms on the leaves are dark brown to black spots with concentric rings (target spot). In susceptible potato cultivars in particular, as well as in locations (especially in warmer areas) with increased occurrence of A. solani, the disease can cause considerable yield losses. Integrated pest management to control early blight requires the implementation of several approaches. The disease is primarily controlled by the use of cultural practices (to reduce the soil born inoculum), less susceptible cultivars and the use of pesticides. But there is a loss in sensitivity toward two groups of fungicides described. The loss in sensitivity towards succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor (SDHI) and Quinone outside inhibitor (QoI) fungicides are caused by different point mutations. In many countries the occurrence of SDHI and QoI mutants is reported. Therefore, the control of early blight will be a considerable challenge in the future. The increasing importance of early blight in potatoes is due to a number of factors. Synchytrium endobioticum is a soil-borne biotrophic fungus causing potato wart disease of cultivated potato. The fungus originates from the Andean zones of South America, from where it spread first to Europe in the late of the nineteenth century. Presently, the geographical distribution of this pathogen includes almost all European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO) countries, Asia, North and South America as well as Oceania (New Zealand). The typical symptoms of cauliflower-like galls could develop on all meristematic tissues of potato except roots. S. endobioticum produces summer sporangia with mobile zoospores that can move in the soil. Winter (resting) sporangia are the dormant structures by which the fungus disperses to establish new infections. They can survive more than 40 years without plant hosts. The pathogen does not produce hyphae. Its long persistence in soil and the severe losses it inflicts to potato crops have prompted its inclusion into the A2 quarantine list of EPPO. Since the discovery of pathotype 2(G1) in Germany, more than 40 pathotypes were reported in Europe. In Europe, pathotypes 1(D1), 2(G1), 6(O1), and 18(T1) are the most relevant. Other pathotypes occur mainly in the rainy mountainous areas of central and eastern Europe. S. endobioticum is a still serious problem for crop production in countries with moderate climates. The strategies to confine the disease are strict quarantine and phytosanitary measures, and the cultivation of resistance cultivars of potato. Spongospora subterranea causes root galling and tuber powdery scab leading to quality and yield losses in seed and ware crops worldwide and is also important as the natural vector of potato mop-top virus (PMTV), an economically important tuber blemish disease of potato. S. subterranea spreads by movement of infected seed tubers and soil and can survive long periods in soils and some asymptomatic hosts. Powdery scab is particularly favored by cool, damp conditions and is an intractable disease. Avoidance is the best control for powdery scab, but once soil is infested with S. subterranea, cultural practices and chemical treatments are ineffective control methods, and host resistance appears to be the most promising mechanism for long-term management. Although sources of host resistance have been identified, they are not widely deployed in practice. S. subterranea is an unculturable biotroph, making research difficult. Recent progress in understanding the biology of S. subterranea as a result of the application of basic molecular techniques, and future opportunities to further advance knowledge of this understudied pathogen, and the virus that it vectors, are included.