Main research question/goal
This research focuses on quarantaine nematodes Globodera rostochiensis and Globodera pallida, the potato cyst nematode. The aim is to use the necessary theoretical and applied knowledge about these nematodes to achieve a targeted management of infestation foci, as well as reduced introduction and spread. A first condition (and research purpose) is the development of efficient and practical detection methods applicable by both government and growers. Through the study of the (long) life cycle, we want to develop efficient actions and techniques that prevent the spread and survival of the cysts, and / or reduce cyst populations as drastically as possible, both in the field and in contaminated plant and soil residues. The research is carried out together with the potato industry, the government, national and international research institutions.
We develop and validate identification and detection techniques. Our aim is the molecular determination (real-time PCR) of the species and numbers of cysts in a sample, as well as the use of bio-assays to characterize the virulence of cyst populations. We devise and evaluate strategies to prevent the spread and survival of cyst population at the farm and factory levels, e.g. through treatment of residues or through soil incorporation of organic matter such as green manures.
Globodera rostochiensis and Globodera pallida cause stunted growth and yield losses in potato. Their quarantine status is complicating the international potato trade. The identification and detection techniques and bioassays are used in both research and diagnostics (at the ILVO Diagnostic Centre for Plants). Distribution of Globodera in Belgium was mapped through thousands of soil samples taken across the country. The ongoing results of the potato cyst research are immediately passed on to the government and to the potato industry through publications and collaboration with national practice centres and the potato industry. The output results in the adaption of phytosanitary regulations or new practices on the farm. Small infestations detected in the field or in soil adhering to potatoes can already be addressed with appropriate measures. However, the ultimate management (reduced entry and distribution) we seek has not yet come to fruition.