Idaho University Team Launch Virus Control Research
A University of Idaho team will use a USD5.8m US Department of Agriculture grant to research a pair of viruses that cause major losses in the potato industry.
Two dozen scientists are focusing on potato virus Y (PVY) and potato mop top virus (PMTV) in seed potatoes and potatoes grown for market.
PVY damages plants and reduces yields and potato size, making the crop less valuable. An Idaho University study indicates PVY losses cost Idaho’s potato industry USD34m a year and reduced yields by 10-50%.
Six states have found the virus, PMVT, in their seed potato crops. The project includes researchers in ten potato-growing states. The four-year project will first focus on giving growers tools to control the viruses, then control pests that spread the virus, and, finally, identify genes that can provide natural resistance to them.
Researcher and potato virus expert Dr. Alex Karasev commented: “Because of its position as the nation’s top potato-producing state, it is fitting that Idaho is leading the project.”
Researchers will study the economic impacts of the viruses and develop ways to communicate with and educate growers about the best strategies to reduce the viruses’ impacts.