Journalists invited to potato late blight workshop in Poland

April 14, 2001

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Amid foot and mouth and mad cow diseases, probably the last thing that farmers need is a pathogen that attacks potatoes. But the fungal-like potato blight disease is becoming more virulent, while gaining resistance to metalaxyl, the commonly applied fungicide.

As researchers look for ways to contain the disease, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Cornell-Eastern Europe-Mexico (CEEM) International Collaborative Project in Potato Late Blight Control partnership are sponsoring an international workshop from June 6 to 8 at the Hotel Gromada, Warsaw, Poland. The main objective of the workshop, "Collaborative Research on Potato Late Blight: Building Strategies and Synergies," will be to review progress and shape the future for research on potato late blight control. Potato late blight is the disease held accountable for the Irish potato famine that resulted in more than a million deaths in the 1840s. In recent decades, it has been kept under control by using agronomic practices, fungicides and resistant potato varieties. However, new strains of late blight are now able to overcome the plant's single-gene resistance. "Today, late blight is re-emerging as a serious concern to potato producers due to its increasing resistance to commonly used fungicides. In addition, new forms of late blight recently have migrated from Mexico, where late blight originated, to the United States and other parts of the world," says K.V. Raman, director of CEEM. The workshop will include latest research on using genetics and traditional breeding methods to develop broad-based resistance. Also discussed will be fungicides, epidemiology and forecasting to contain the disease, including the development of integrated control measures.

The development of late blight-resistant potato plants will be explained, and testing with germplasm materials will be demonstrated. Also on view will be experiments related to forecasting late blight outbreaks and understanding the pathogen's epidemiology, as well as biotechnology research used to identify the pathogen's different strains. Scientists from Peru, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Hungary, Scotland, Ireland, Poland, Russia, the United States, Mexico and Canada will be available for interviews. EDITORS: You are invited to attend the workshop in Warsaw.

Cornell University

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