Jon Pickup

Senior Nematologist
SASA

Projects

Project Lead: Ian Toth
Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) is a threat to the Scottish seed potato and bulb industries: SASA estimates that 15% of the area regularly planted with potatoes in Scotland is now infested with PCN, with an estimated increase in spread of 5% per year. If this spread is not controlled, in 25-30 years there could potentially be no suitable land left for seed potato or bulb production.

Recently, following a working group on PCN, a report entitled ‘Potato cyst nematode (PCN) and the future of potato production in Scotland’ was submitted to Scottish Government highlighting the PCN problem in detail and outlining practical recommendations for its reduction.

Scottish Government agreed to fund in full the recommendations in the report and this project will aim to:
• develop resistance markers to PCN to inform breeding programs,
• introduce diploid breeding strategies to generate PCN resistant varieties relevant to the Scottish fresh potato market,
• improve the understanding of the mechanisms of PCN tolerance in potatoes,
• methods of groundkeeper control and management,
• novel and improved IPM tools for PCN management,
• create a decision support tool for PCN control in Scotland, building upon the AHDB’s PCN calculator
Project Lead: Vivian Blok
Potato cyst nematode (PCN) remains an important threat to potato production in the UK as elsewhere and is a particular concern to the Scottish seed industry, since land found to be infested with the pest cannot be used to grow seed. However, ware crops can still be grown which may exacerbate issues for the seed potato industry. While there is good cultivar resistance (ca 50% of potatoes in Scotland) to species Globodera rostochiensis, helping to halt its spread, there is little resistance to a second species (G. pallida), which has a greater potential to increase and spread. This is likely to have a detrimental effect on the seed industry in Scotland in the future but how much of an effect is not clear. This project is divided into four parts to help better understand the threat from PCN in the future:

• A review of possible interventions to include a review of PCN management in other countries to inform the work packages below:-
• Modelling future risks of both G. rostochiensis and G. palida using interventions identified in the review and climate scenarios.
• Grower behaviours and attitudes to interventions, to include input from industry stakeholders.
• An economic analysis of likely impact in Scotland based on a range of possible interventions.

Impact: A clearer understanding of possible control options, economic impacts of available interventions and the likelihood of growers and buyers adopting new resistant varieties, altering rotation practices or any other interventions such that recommendations on best strategies (including statutory controls) can be made.

Publications

Agriculture | Policy Document

PCN Working Group - Final Report

March 2021

Following a Ministerial round table meeting on PCN in June 2020, a working group of over 50 potato industry, government and academic partners was set up (from both Scotland and the wider UK) to identify a clear strategy for dealing with the PCN crisis. Following over 320 person hours of scheduled meetings, plus many days of personal discussions, recommendations for how to combat the growing threat of PCN to the Scottish potato industry have been proposed.