Studies towards late blight control in potato

Laith Moushib

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)


The oomycete Phytophthora infestans, which causes the devastating late blight disease of potato, is notorious for
developing resistance to conventional control strategies (fungicide application and resistance breeding by
introgression of R gene). To increase our tool box of disease management strategies available to combat P.
infestans, there is a need to explore several new approaches that can lead to more durable solutions to control late
blight disease. Using the potato-P. infestans pathosystem, different approaches were used in this thesis with an aim
to enhance potato defence and find new resistance sources to P. infestans. In the first approach, exogenous
application of a new natural agent, sugar beet extract (SBE), resulted in significant reduction of the size of the
infection lesions. The pattern was similar to that seen with application of a known defence-inducing compound, β-
aminobutyric acid (BABA). SBE triggered pathogenesis-related protein production with no toxic effect on pathogen
growth from SBE was noted, which suggests that the protection conferred by SBE is via induced resistance. BABA
is a non-protein amino acid that was shown to induce resistance in different plant species and against various
pathogens. However, its mechanism of induced resistance (IR) activation in potato to P.infestans is unclear. Thus, in
the second approach, a proteomic and transcriptomic study was conducted in an attempt to unravel the mechanism
of BABA-IR in potato. It became clear from our study that BABA results in direct activation of several hormonerelated
pathways and defence-related proteins. In the third approach, a constitutively activated defence was
discovered in one Phytophthora-resistant potato clone (out of two investigated), which could be an interesting
starting material in resistance breeding. In the fourth approach, engineering potato plants by in planta expression of
pathogen-associated molecular patterns (Pep13 and flg22) resulted in significant reduction of late blight severity,
which could be a suitable strategy to alleviate the severity of plant diseases. An integrated pest management
approach, including reduction of the use of the fungicides, is one of the recommendations of the recent EU directive.
Thus, it is anticipated that combining induced resistance principle and/or a properly designed transgenic approach
with conventional control strategies can reduce fungicide inputs and provide a more efficient and sustainable
solution for late blight problem.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Biology
  • Andreasson, Erik, Supervisor
  • Widell, Susanne, Supervisor
Award date2013 Mar 27
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2013-03-27
Time: 09:12
Place: Crafoordsalen at Alnarp SLU

External reviewer(s)

Name: Jørgensen, Hans
Title: [unknown]
Affiliation: University of Copenhagen, Molecular Plant Biology


The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Department of Cell and Organism Biology (Closed 2011.) (011002100), Molecular Cell Biology (432112241)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Biological Sciences

Free keywords

  • Oomycetes
  • plant induced resistance
  • sustainable agriculture
  • plant defence activators
  • plant innate immunity
  • potato
  • late blight


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