Rhizosphere microbial antagonists: A sustainable way of controlling pathogens of potatoes

Potatoes are edible tubers, available worldwide and all year long. The crop is relatively cheap to grow and its tubers are rich in nutrients, and they can make a delicious treat. However, productivity of this crop and tuber quality is hugely threatened by microbial pathogens. Both fungal and bacterial soil pathogens are known to cause severe yield loses across the globe. Some of its common diseases include; soft rots, ring rot, common scab and late blight.

To control the diseases, farmers usually use inorganic pesticides while, others grow potato varieties developed to genetically resist some of these pathogens. Inorganic pesticides are expensive; hence they increase cost of production. Furthermore, inorganic pesticides affects non-target organisms, thereby impacting negatively on ecosystem functioning and biodiversity. Hence, control strategies that are ecosystem friendly are required. Use of microbial antagonists is suggested as a sustainable way to control plant diseases. However, antagonists of pathogens that affect potato plants are not yet well documented.

Therefore, I propose to establish trials of both, newly developed and commercial cultivars of potatoes at four locations in Zimbabwe, which are known as hotspots of the major diseases. From these locations, soil samples will be collected from the rhizosphere of plants showing symptoms of the major diseases (i.e., susceptible plants) and also from those plants not showing any symptoms (i.e., resistant plants). In order to identify microbial strains (i.e., both pathogens & symbionts) residing in the rhizosphere soil environment of potatoes, the intra-transcribed spacer (ITS) region as well as the 16S rRNA amplicon sequences will be used for fungal and bacterial diversity analysis, respectively. Bioinformatics pipelines and R tools will be employed to achieve this. Using this strategy, comparisons of soil microbial profiles in the rhizosphere soil environment of susceptible and resistant plants will be done; therefore it will be possible to identify microbial taxa that are populated by resistant plants in their soil environment. I hypothesize that, some of the bacterial and fungal taxa populated by resistant potato cultivars in their rhizosphere environment have the ability to antagonize the pathogenic strains. If the identities of antagonists of pathogens of potato plants are identified, these can be cultured and purified, and can be inoculated on potato tubers during planting as bio-protectants.

Casper Nyaradzai Kamutando, Zimbabwe

54 comments

  1. Inspiring. I think this will greatly improve yield productivity, and is a landmark output for farmers and a larger body of science. Go for it man #scienceispower #innovationiskeytofoodsecurity

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    1. This is a great idea, especially with the cost of production being high (particularly cost of chemicals) such research ideas will surely benefit poor resource farmers. Everything is possible remember the use of rhizobium in soybean is now widely used with good results.

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      1. I think this project will take potato farming and food security to the next. Level considering that potatoes are consumed large quantities also solving critical issue in the sub Saharan potato industry

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  2. Very interesting. In this dawn of biofertlizers, metagenomics is of paramount importance. It would also be interesting to find out the symbiotic relationship of those microorganisms with the plant; as well as the antagonistic mechanisms that fend off competitive microbes.
    Its high time our potato industry is restored.

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  3. Very interesting. In this dawn of biofertlizers, metagenomics is of paramount importance. It would also be interesting to find out the symbiotic relationship of those microorganisms with the plant; as well as the antagonistic mechanisms that fend off competitive microbes.
    Its high time our potato industry is restored.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It is quite a sustainable way of solving the problem without creating more problems for the next generation. Going the organic way is quite a noble idea!

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  5. It is quite a sustainable way of solving the problem without creating more problems for the next generation. Going the organic way is quite a noble idea!

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  6. Interesting research that should greatly improve the quality of both seed and ware potatoes in the country and beyond. Diseases such as scab are currently a challenge to smallholder farmers in entering high value local and export markets.

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  7. This is a novel idea which links soil microbial ecology studies to agricultural productivity. The production of biopesticides is in support of growth of agro chemical industries, which is the way to go these days.

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  8. Good idea boss that will assist in reducing production costs and also increase yields ..thus enhancing food security, farmer’s margins and also contribute much on the value chain as well as promoting sustainable use of natural resources

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  9. Great work Casper. Diseases like bacterial wilt Ralstonia solanacearum has led to loss of production area especially in Nyanga where most of potato seed comes from. The research would help in reclamation of that land to produce more health seed

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  10. This is a Novel idea Casper. I think it will go a long way in sustainably controlling potato pathogens. Moreover, it will add another potato disease control option in the Integrated pest management program.

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  11. Innovative idea. Sustainable solutions to challenges facing farmers are are the bridge between food production and and food and nutrition security. Looking forward to the research results.

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  12. I think its a way to go and to explore in agriculture, constituting biotechnology in the farming industry especially Zimbabwe, to actually make potato production compete at a global level through enhancing the management in pathology. This may actually be a stepping stone to effective and productive management.

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  13. What a great inspirational research!!!! Im sure it greatly improve potato seed quality of potatoes in the country and beyond. This is a sustainable way for potato production for both small scale and large scale farmers.

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  14. Woow…. What a heavily pregnant sounding research full of helpful answers for hanged questions. Sure thats the greatest way to go. Good solution for fighting these problematic microbes. Insects and diseases….Potatoes ✅✅✅Thats a big YES. Customer preference seems to have shifted to an increase contributing to the increase in demand.And that definately cause a raise in consciousness and interest in farmers on beneficial ways they can implement to produce high quality tubers to reduce post harvest losses. I think this is a noble idea to try and cut production costs and improve the four factors of production. At the same time moving away from chemical residual effects on human health… For real am being agitated by this innovative idea. All the best in your research and willing to learn more from it…..Let it be

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  15. A good initiative especially during thse time of economic hardships whr by inorganic pesticides are expensive and hard to get for the local farmers. It wld be interesting to see the outcomes of the research and its impacts locally. Sustainable potato production is all that matters nowadays.

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  16. Its a novel idea Casper. Emerging reports in many parts of the world showed that Phythopthora infestans is now developing resistance to metalaxyl fungicides. So I think it will effectively substitutes these synthetic fungicides. . These rhizosphere microbial antagonists are environmentally friendly as they are non pollutive, largely non phytotoxic, no residual effects thus readily biodegradable, renewable and inexhaustible hence play a crucial role in smart agriculture.

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  17. A good project, searching for natural enemies of plant pathogens in the soil serves as an excellent first step towards combating crop diseases. In addition to determining the taxonomy of these microbial guilds (fungi and bacteria), aspects of their metabolic capacity could be used to agents plant pathogens.

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  18. The idea sounds novel. It would be a major breakthrough in commercial potato production and potato seed production alike
    If the intended results are achieved.

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  19. WHat a nobble idea! Many people are being more healthy conscious and are now considering consuming farm products with very low traces of inorganic chemicals. This kind of approach to tackle diseases comes in handy to protect environmental and human healthy which will lead to a sustainable ecosystem. Results from this kind of research will take the agricultural industry to a greater level by reducing cost of production in many crops.

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  20. This is environmentally friendly, Would like to join you in this. Dangerous chemicals are over and misused and its harming our environment. Go organic go

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  21. A great step towards combating the threats of food security in a drastically changing climate. Wonderful method that is environmental friendly, sustainable and cost effective. Looking forward to the results from this research. Great work comrade!!

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  22. Interesting idea to work on. The findings if positive can be a direct boost to potato production, I like potatoes. All the best with this.

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  23. Great scientific idea. This will enhance productivity thereby ensuring food security. Great inspirational work

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  24. Good idea Casper!! We need to find ways that reduce the use of chemicals in controlling diseases in tubers…Push ahead!!

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  25. A better understanding of the basic principles of the rhizosphere ecology, including the function and diversity of inhabiting microorganisms is on the way but further knowledge is necessary to optimize soil microbial technology to the benefit of plant growth and health in the natural environment thereby increasing productivity. Filling this research gap is very necessary Casper especially in potatoes, this is quite innovative Sir , PUSH AHEAD

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  26. This is amazing… It’s a simple idea… Yet with possibly profound results… I’m gonna share this idea

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  27. What an astounding idea….This can be a very huge breakthrough innovation in potato production,this must be sure to enhance potato production in an environmentally friendly manner thus improving food security in the region as well as the whole world at large.

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