Field and glasshouse experiments on the control of potato mop‐top virus


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Field observations during 3 yr on a stock of potato cv. Red Craigs Royal partially infected with potato mop‐top virus (PMTV) confirmed that the virus was passed by an infected mother plant to only a proportion of its progeny tubers, and showed that in this cultivar symptomless plants gave rise only to symptomless progeny. The elimination of PMTV from stocks can therefore be greatly accelerated by removing symptom‐bearing plants. Infected potato tubers were not freed from PMTV by treating them at 37 °C for up to 8 wk. Treating ‘seed’ tubers bearing powdery scabs that contain PMTV‐carrying resting spores of Spongospora subterranea with formaldehyde or organo‐mercurial fungicide greatly decreased PMTV establishment when the tubers were planted in previously uninfective soil, but fumigation with 2‐aminobutane was ineffective. Decreasing the pH of infective soil to 5‐0 by applying sulphur greatly decreased the infection of potato cv. Arran Pilot with PMTV and S. subterranea in field experiments, but this treatment did not eliminate either; when the pH of treated soil was raised the transmission of PMTV resumed. Treating infective soil with a range of fungicides greatly decreased the infection of Nicotiana debneyi bait seedlings in glasshouse experiments but only calomel at 75 kg/ha controlled spread of PMTV and 5. subterranea to potato in field experiments. In other field experiments, applying zinc frit, zinc sulphate or zinc oxide to infective soil greatly decreased the spread of both to potato. The amount of zinc required increased with increase in clay content of the soil. However, treatment with zinc compounds did not eliminate PMTV‐carrying vectors from soil, and when treated soil was diluted with autoclaved soil many of the bait seedlings planted in the mixture became infected. The zinc frit was phytotoxic because of its boron content but zinc sulphate and zinc oxide caused little or no decrease in tuber yield. The zinc content of potato tubers was increased but not doubled in zinc‐treated plots, and during the first year after treatment the zinc content of topsoil decreased greatly. The zinc content of ryegrass grown after potatoes was greater than of potato tubers but did not reach a level considered dangerous to livestock. Treatment of soil with sulphur, zinc oxide or calomel may be useful for small plots used in the early stages of propagation of virus‐tested potato clones where there is risk of infection with PMTV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-230
Number of pages16
JournalAnnals of Applied Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1976
Externally publishedYes


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