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Helminthosporium solani causes silver scurf, which affects the quality of potato. The biocontrol agent Clonostachys rosea greatly limited the severity of silver scurf symptoms and amount of H. solani genomic DNA in laboratory experiments. Transcriptomic analysis during interaction showed that H. solani gene expression was highly reduced when coinoculated with the biocontrol agent C. rosea, whereas gene expression of C. rosea was clearly boosted as a response to the pathogen. The most notable upregulated C. rosea genes were those encoding proteins involved in cellular response to oxidative stress, proteases, G-protein signaling, and the methyltransferase LaeA. The most notable potato response to both fungi was downregulation of defense-related genes and mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinases. At a later stage, this shifted, and most potato defense genes were turned on, especially those involved in terpenoid biosynthesis when H. solani was present. Some biocontrol-activated defense-related genes in potato were upregulated during early interaction with C. rosea alone that were not triggered by H. solani alone. Our results indicate that the reductions of silver scurf using C. rosea are probably due to a combination of mechanisms, including mycoparasitism, biocontrol-activated stimulation of plant defense mechanisms, microbial competition for nutrients, space, and antibiosis.

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Soft rot and blackleg of potato caused by pectinolytic bacteria lead to severe economic losses in potato production worldwide. To investigate the species composition of bacteria causing soft rot and black leg of potato in Norway and Poland, bacteria were isolated from potato tubers and stems. Forty-one Norwegian strains and 42 Polish strains that formed cavities on pectate medium were selected for potato tuber maceration assays and sequencing of three housekeeping genes (dnaX, icdA and mdh) for species identification and phylogenetic analysis. The distribution of the species causing soft rot and blackleg in Norway and Poland differed: we have demonstrated that mainly P. atrosepticum and P. c. subsp. carotovorum are the causal agents of soft rot and blackleg of potatoes in Norway, while P. wasabiae was identified as one of the most important soft rot pathogens in Poland. In contrast to the other European countries, D. solani seem not to be a major pathogen of potato in Norway and Poland. The Norwegian and Polish P. c. subsp. carotovorum and P. wasabiae strains did not cluster with type strains of the respective species in the phylogenetic analysis, which underlines the taxonomic complexity of the genus Pectobacterium. No correlation between the country of origin and clustering of the strains was observed. All strains tested in this study were able to macerate potato tissue. The ability to macerate potato tissue was significantly greater for the P. c. subsp. carotovorum and Dickeya spp., compared to P. atrosepticum and P. wasabiae.

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The genus Microbacterium contains bacteria that are ubiquitously distributed in various environments and includes plant-associated bacteria that are able to colonize tissue of agricultural crop plants. Here, we report the 3,508,491 bp complete genome sequence of Microbacterium sp. strain BH-3-3-3, isolated from conventionally grown lettuce (Lactuca sativa) from a field in Vestfold, Norway. The nucleotide sequence of this genome was deposited into NCBI GenBank under the accession CP017674.

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The genus Pectobacterium, which belongs to the bacterial family Enterobacteriaceae, contains numerous species that cause soft rot diseases in a wide range of plants. The species Pectobacterium carotovorum is highly heterogeneous, indicating a need for re-evaluation and a better classification of the species. PacBio was used for sequencing of two soft-rot-causing bacterial strains (NIBIO1006T and NIBIO1392), initially identified as P. carotovorum strains by fatty acid analysis and sequencing of three housekeeping genes (dnaX, icdA and mdh). Their taxonomic relationship to other Pectobacterium species was determined and the distance from any described species within the genus Pectobacterium was less than 94% average nucleotide identity (ANI). Based on ANI, phylogenetic data and genome-to-genome distance, strains NIBIO1006T, NIBIO1392 and NCPPB3395 are suggested to represent a novel species of the genus Pectobacterium, for which the name Pectobacterium polaris sp. nov. is proposed. The type strain is NIBIO1006T (=DSM 105255T=NCPPB 4611T).

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Common scab (CS) is an important disease and quality problem in potato crops worldwide. CS degrades the appearance of the potato tubers, thereby diminishing market value. Knowledge of CS has expanded considerably over recent years, enabling improved detection of the causal pathogens and increased understanding of mechanisms of pathogenicity, and providing potential methods of modulating pathogen response for disease resistance. However, effective control of this disease remains elusive, and will require increased understanding of both the host and the pathogen. Traditional control strategies such as irrigation and reduced soil pH are not sufficient and often fail. Optimizing environmental conditions for reduction of CS can also lead to favorable conditions for other diseases. The most desirable control method would be disease-resistant potato cultivars. However, no currently available commercial potato cultivar has been shown to be completely resistant to CS. In this review, we provide an overview of potato CS caused by plant pathogenic Streptomyces species, recent research on mechanisms and management of the disease, and knowledge gaps that limit successful control of this ubiquitous and troublesome disease.

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A survey of the prevalence of skin blemish diseases in potatoes after the growing seasons of 2008 and 2009 was carried out on 247 potato lots representing different cultivars and production regions in Norway. The results showed the presence of silver scurf (Helminthosporium solani) in all lots. Skin spot (Polyscytalum pustulans) and black scurf (Rhizoctonia solani) were found in 80% of the lots, and black dot (Colletotrichum coccodes) and common scab caused by Streptomyces spp. were present in 50–70%. Also, powdery scab (Spongospora subterranea) occurred in 65–80% of the lots, and root-lesion nematodes (Pratylenchus spp.) were detected in 60% of the sub-samples that exhibited symptoms of common scab.

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Bioforsk had the pleasure of hosting the Nordic Baltic Potato Tuber-Disease Workshop 2011 (PTDW 2011) at Hamar, Norway 16-18 November 2011. The workshop was mainly aimed at potato advisors, including the potato industry, and scientists from the Nordic and Baltic countries. In addition, we also had participants that are plant breeders, students, and and other people interested in potato quality. In total there were about 60 participants at the workshop from the Nordic countries, UK, Switzerland, USA and China. This Workshop was an activity in Bioforsk project: “Improved potato quality by reduced skin blemish diseases (scab and scurf) in Norwegian potato production” (2008-2012). This project was financed by grants from the Research Council of Norway, the Foundation for Research Levy on Agricultural Products, the Agricultural Agreement Research Fund, and Norwegian potato growers and food industries; Gartnerhallen, Bama, ICA-Norge, NF-Grønt, KiMs and Maarud. The foreign experts attached to this project, Alison Lees (UK), Leslie Wanner (USA) and Jari Valkonen (Finland), were contributors in the workshop. In addition invited speakers were Lv Dianqiu from China and Ueli Merz from Switzerland. The workshop had 5 different sections, in which the 3 first had presentations from the project: 1. Occurrence of skin blemish diseases in the Nordic and Baltic countries 2. Diagnosis and biology of different skin blemish pathogens 3. Control of skin blemish diseases 4. Research activities on other potato tuber diseases in Nordic and Baltic countries 5. Future challenges In the table of contents, the abstracts are presented in the same order as found in the program. The scientific workshop committee consisted of Jari Valkonen (Finland), Björn Andersson (Sweden), Bent J. Nielsen (Denmark) and Arne Hermansen (Norway).