Control of soil-borne potato diseases using Brassica spp. Mediated Biofumigation

With increasing amounts of pressure put on to growers to cut their use of potential environmental hazardous pesticides and fumigants, a considerable amount of interest is being shown within alternative methods of pathogen and pest control.  One such method has been termed Biofumigation.  It is a method that exploits toxic compounds that are already naturally released via glucosinolate hydrolysis which occurs during the breakdown of Brassica plant tissues. 

Although it is known that the compounds are released during mastication of the Brassica cells, many gaps still exist in our understanding of these, and whether such effects are transferable to a field scale.  This study will uncover a greater in-depth knowledge of biofumigation, which will aid understanding of the complex processes involved and it’s potential to be used as part of an integrated disease management programme. 

TOP: Potato tuber with external symptoms of black scurf.  BOTTOM: Black dot microsclerotia on potato tubers This project will concentrate upon using biofumigation to suppress soil-borne pathogens that infect potatoes, of which there are a significant number of, such as – black dot (Colletotrichum coccodes), silver scurf (Helminthosporium solani), common scab (Steptomyces scabies), stem canker and black scurf (Rhizoctonia solani) and skin spot (Polyscytalum pustulans).  Such diseases are known to cause reduced development of the plant, lower tuber quality and produce unsightly blemishes, which all in turn lead to reduced marketable yield. 

The project will investigate many aspects of the pathogen: biofumigation interaction, initially determining, through the use of in vitro assays, if a proposed system will work within it’s most controllable form.  This data will provide a basic understanding of the processes involved and interpretation of effects observed under a controlled soil environment.  Ultimately to provide scientific robust evidence on the potential role of biofumigation in an integrated control programme.