Novel effective management of bacterial pathogens associated with potatoes

  • Mattey, Michael (Principal Investigator)
  • Herron, Paul (Co-investigator)

Project: Research

Project Details


The project will have a number of specific work packages (WP's), defined by key milestones. Overall management will be by APS, with quarterly meetings between all partners to review progress in relation to an agreed timeline. All WP's are 'applied research', apart from WP6 ('experimental development'). WP1: Pectobacterium/Dickeya isolation [APS, Branston, SASA]. Target bacteria will be isolated from diseased plant material, collected by Branston agronomists. SASA will also make available their collection of Dickeya isolates (including D. solani). WP2: Bacteriophage screening [APS]. Bacterial isolates from WP1 will be used to screen environmental samples for specific lytic bacteriophage using an enrichment technique. WP3: Bacteriophage immobilisation [Strathclyde]. Bacteriophage isolated in WP2 will be immobilised onto a variety of biodegradable substrates (patent PCT/GB03/01797); stabilising them and providing a novel method of delivery. Phage titres will be optimised and shelf-life studies of immobilised products carried out. WP4: Bacteriophage laboratory assays [APS, SASA]. The performance of combinations of immobilised bacteriophage against the target bacteria will be assessed using a potato slice assay, including work on D. Solani at SASA. WP5: Glasshouse assays [SASA]. The performance of selected bacteriophage formulations will be assessed under a range of crop variables, including soil temperature and moisture content, cultivar and growth rate. In addition to gross symptom development, asymptomatic disease development will be investigated using quantitative PCR assays to trace pathogen development. WP6: Field trials [Branston]. Field performance of liquid and dust formulations of successful bacteriophage mixes from WP5 will be assessed in a randomised block design (4 reps/treatment), according to EPPO standards (in Scotland and Lincolnshire). Within 2 years of the project end, we aim to launch a novel seed-potato bactericide treatment, providing significant benefit over current practice (present treatments are primarily fungicides). APS and Branston will work together to secure the relevant product registration(s). The extreme specificity, natural occurrence and proven safety of bacteriophage will make them ideally suitable as new crop protection products, complying with the 'hazard-based' approaches incorporated in current changes within Pesticide regulations (91/414/EEC). 6. INNOVATION. The use of bacteriophage in agriculture is not a new concept but to date, its commercial potential has not been realised, due to a variety of technical and logistical problems; including correct disease diagnosis and the preparation of a suitable, stable and effective treatment. Such problems will be overcome with our technical innovation; i.e. an effective, stable delivery system (immobilised bacteriophage), combined with synergistic natural compounds to maximise activity (incorporating background IPR of both Strathclyde and APS). Commercial innovation will be realised through a novel, seed potato product, which is effective and environmentally-acceptable and which will contribute to both increased potato yields and improvements in the competitive advantage of the UK seed-potato industry.
Effective start/end date1/09/1031/08/13


  • EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council): £107,817.00