Thursday, 21 September 2017

Cornell University received a USD1.2m boost in new state funding to fight against the most destructive potato pest: the golden nematode.

Currently quarantined to eight New York counties, the nematode threatens the state’s annual USD73m potato crop. For decades, a partnership between Cornell and government scientists has kept this persistent subterranean threat in check.

The golden nematode is so destructive that it can lead to total crop failure if not controlled, according to Walter DeJong, associate professor in the Plant Breeding and Genetics Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science.

Additionally, the pest is so persistent in soil, living up to 30 years, that if it were to spread to other parts of the country it would compromise domestic and international trade as embargoes against any agricultural commodity that comes in contact with soil (e.g. all nursery, turf, root, and tuber crops) would be put in place.

While the collaborative effort involving Cornell University, the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM) has kept the threat at bay for the past seven decades through quarantine, regulations and developing resistant potato varieties and management plans, the recent discovery of a new race of the Golden Nematode threatens the continued success of the quarantine program.

At the announcement of upgrading the Federal Golden Nematode Lab at Cornell, senator Thomas O’Mara, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean Kathryn J. Boor spoke about  the USD1.2m in new state funding that will be going to updating quarantine facilities, as well as the importance of the Golden Nematode Research Program to the state and beyond. The program is also funded by the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.

Photo credit: 

Photo: Michael Murphy ’17, left; Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; State Sen. Thomas O’Mara, R, C-Big Flats; Melanie Wickham, executive director of Empire State Potato Growers; and Walter DeJong, associate professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science, at the announcement of new state funding to upgrade the Federal Golden Nematode Lab at Cornell. 

Related articles: 

4th Symposium of Potato Cyst Nematode Management 

Improved diagnostic test for Potato Cyst Nematodes developed by ARS

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