Monitoring and tackling genetic selection in the potato cyst nematode Globodera pallida
The aim of the project was to exchange knowledge and knowhow among partners as a first step to counter the emergence of virulent G. pallida populations by improving the EU methods and tools for a fast identification of virulence outbreaks in PCN populations sampled through the different national control plans or through the potato growers monitoring plans.
Management of plant pests is probably the most serious challenge in sustainable food production and the maintenance of food security. Due to the strict regulation of or ban on major categories of pesticide, the potato cyst nematode Globodera pallida has been managed by a combination of crop rotation and natural resistance introgressed into a range of commercial potato cultivars in Europe. However, in 2014, G. pallida populations were described that can no longer be controlled by resistant cultivars. Most likely similar highly virulent populations will also emerge in all major potato growing areas in North Western Europe where production practices are very similar. Except for laborious, costly and often moderately accurate pot experiments, there is currently no rapid and reliable method to identify virulent populations. This represents a strong limitation and prevents an accurate and durable management of infestations in the field.
The PalAdapt project funded by EFSA represents the first step of a European battle plan against the emergence of virulent G. pallida populations and aims at improving the methods and tools for a fast identification of virulence outbreaks. Four main research questions were investigated during the project: (i) Do resistance breaking populations correspond to novel introductions into Europe? (ii) Can miniaturized in vitro tests be used to get more rapidly an accurate identification of the virulence status?, (iii) Is there a life history trait useful to estimate the virulence status of a population?, (iv) Can we identify polymorphism to design molecular tools for an accurate virulence monitoring? The EFSA partnering grants initiative was an accurate way to improve the EU risk assessment capacity through a knowledge exchange among partners having complementary resources and expertise