Jun 28, 2023
PATAFEST aims to increase potato plant protection in Europe

Europatat, the European Potato Trade Association, is joining PATAFEST, a new EU Horizon Europe project aimed at increasing potato plant protection.

The project, launched earlier this month in Madrid, will focus on reducing pest spreading and resistance characterization as well as preharvest treatments and postharvest solutions.

PATAFEST, a new EU Horizon Europe project aimed at increasing potato plant protection, launched earlier this month in Madrid. Photo: File

Potatoes generated €12.4 billion, or $13.5 billion, in Europe in 2020, according to a news release from Europatat. However, the crop is vulnerable to pests and soilborne pathogen diseases including the bacteria Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum (CLso), which causes a disease known as zebra chip. The introduction of CLso bacterium is linked to the presence of the vector psyllid Bactericera cockerelli and can reduce crop yield and damage quality.

Postharvest diseases such as dry rot, black dot and silver scurf are caused by soil-borne pathogens in both field and storage.

PATAFEST will identify resistance genes in potato varieties against selected pests and pathogens in an effort to develop strategies to control the spread of pests and reduce postharvest diseases.

The project will:

  • Characterize at molecular level the ecological pest spread pathway and identify potato disease resistance varieties against CLso and postharvest pathogens.
  • Provide effective preharvest plant and soil treatments against CLso vector and soil-borne pathogens combined with technologies such as image analysis tools and artificial intelligence predictive models.
  • Develop postharvest technologies (biocontrol coating solution, controlled atmosphere storage and volatile organic compounds sensors) to control the incidence of soil pathogens and maintain the quality of potato tubers stored.

The PATAFEST consortium consists of 18 partners and led by Spanish technology center Funditec. The consortium met in Madrid June 21-22 to kick off

the project, which will run until May 2027, and target initial tasks.

Europatat will disseminate project goals and results and connect the research to EU policy makers, according to the release.

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