Effect of soil inoculum level and environmental factors on potato powdery scab caused by Spongospora subterranea

P. Van De Graaf*, A. K. Lees, S. J. Wale, J. M. Duncan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


The effects of soil inoculum level and three environmental factors (soil type, soil moisture regime and temperature) on the incidence and severity of powdery scab caused by Spongospora subterranea were investigated in potato plants grown under controlled environmental conditions. Symptoms of powdery scab on tubers were assessed visually, after which DNA was extracted from tuber peelings and quantified in a real-time polymerase chain reaction assay using primers and a TaqMan® probe specific to S. subterranea to establish tuber infection levels. Soil inoculum concentration of S. subterranea did not significantly affect the incidence and severity of either tuber infection or powdery scab symptoms at maturity. No significant differences in disease incidence and severity were found between sandy, loamy and clay soils, although the two lighter soils yielded more powdery scab than clay soil. Constant dampness of the soil resulted in significantly more disease than a fluctuating moisture regime. Infection and disease levels were high at all three temperatures tested (9, 12 and 17°C), but symptoms were most severe at 12°C. The percentage of plants with infected tubers did not increase after tuber initiation, although the amount of S. subterranea DNA detected in tubers and the severity of powdery scab symptoms increased in mature plants. Latent tuber infections were found to be common, especially under conditions suboptimal for disease development. This new information may be important for the prevention of powdery scab in potato-growing areas around the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-28
Number of pages7
JournalPlant Pathology
Issue number1
Publication statusPrint publication - 1 Feb 2005


  • Latent infections
  • Plant growth stage
  • Real-time PCR
  • Soil moisture
  • Soil type
  • Temperature


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