Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Examining a disease decimating global potato yields


Nina Prokhorova, a farmer in Rogachievo, Russia, shows one of her small potatoes from her dacha garden, which has been devastated this year by drought and Colorado potato beetles. Photo: Blaine P. Friedlander Jr./Cornell News Service
Copyright © Cornell University

While many Americans will be relaxing after their Thanksgiving Day feast, many people around the world may have a shortage of food, particularly potatoes, a staple that is being seriously threatened by a disease called potato late blight.

In a news story appearing in the journal Science (Nov. 29), "Taking the Bite Out of Blight," writer Glenn Garelik examines the disease that is affecting potato production globally.

Potato late blight (Phytophthora infestans ) is the pathogen that infested Ireland’s potato fields in the 1840s, considered a major cause of the famine. Scientists had potato late blight under control in the mid-20th century, but in the past three decades late blight has spread around the globe, and the mutated funguslike pathogen has grown more tenacious than ever.

Researchers affiliated with the Cornell Eastern Europe Mexico (CEEM) program headquartered at Cornell University are working to contain the pathogen, which causes brownish or purple-black lesions. The lesions ultimately turn a once-healthy potato plant into black slime, and the tuber itself into mush. An entire field can be wiped out within a week.

In the 1990s, when the blight started seriously affecting Europe again, yields on some Russian plots were slashed by as much as 70 percent. In Russia, where potatoes are a major part of the diet for many people, particularly small-plot farmers, potato blight and other diseases and pests may have dire consequences, says K.V. Raman, executive director of the Cornell potato late blight program, one of the experts cited in the Science story.

"The conditions prevalent in today’s Russia are all too reminiscent of those of Ireland in the mid-19th century," says Raman.

Blaine P. Friedlander Jr. | Cornell NEws
Further information:

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Forest Management Yields Higher Productivity through Biodiversity
14.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>