Oct 25, 2017
First positive tests for zebra chip pathogen in Western Canada

Authorities are advising against panic as monitoring in southern Alberta potato fields has, for the first time ever, identified the zebra chip pathogen, according to a release from the University of Lethbridge.

“So far, the zebra chip pathogen has appeared in only small numbers of potato psyllids,” said the university’s Dan Johnson, who is the coordinator of the Canadian Potato Psyllid and Zebra Chip Monitoring Network.

He added that the number of potato psyllids in all Alberta sites is very low and many sample cards have found no evidence of the insect.

“Zebra chip does not normally become a problem unless the potato psyllids are found in much higher numbers than are currently being found in Canada,” he said.

An infected potato psyllid insect carries the Lso (Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum) pathogen that can cause zebra chip disease in potato crops. Zebra chip has affected potato crops in the United States, Mexico and New Zealand and caused millions of dollars in losses.

The monitoring network will continue to collect samples to determine when and if the number of psyllids with the pathogen decline.

Psyllids carrying the pathogen were found in multiple locations, indicating this is not an isolated incident.

“This indicates it’s likely that we have a widespread incidence of Lso at a very low level instead of a single random arrival or importation,” Johnson said.

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