Potato Grower

June 2018

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34 POTATO GROWER | JUNE 2018 FROM PCR TO GARDEN SEED POTATOES Leveraging grower investment with specialty crop funding Montana State Seed Potato Certification Program By Nina Zidack Director received was to address the need for actual implementation of PCR in our program and to adopt and validate PCR protocols for PVX, PVY and PVA. Through this first grant, we established detection limits for the three viruses in comparison to ELISA for leaf, sprout and tuber tissue. We also demonstrated that we could detect very low titers of virus, and that it was a valid technique for assaying tuber tissue. We built upon this program with a project evaluating real-time PCR, an improvement on conventional PCR as a quantitative measure, with increased sensitivity. These projects enabled us to validate detection methods for 10 potato viruses, three bacterial pathogens and two fungal organisms (late blight and powdery scab). Following this success, in 2012 our lab purchased a real-time PCR instrument through SCBG funding (with Montana Potato Improvement Association matching funds), enabling us to further Since Jim Shepard's development of the radial diffusion assay for PVY and PVX in 1969, Montana has been the leader in high-throughput testing for viruses in seed potato certification. In 1978, ELISA was implemented on an even larger scale for virus detection. Just as ELISA testing has become the workhorse of certification testing, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has been emerging as a faster and more sensitive test compared to traditional serological assays. When I arrived in 2008, PCR had evolved to a point where it became the new standard for sensitivity in diagnostics, and was rapidly becoming more adaptable to high-throughput testing. Although the lab possessed a base level of capability, we were not ready to scale up the test in a high-throughput manner to respond to industry demands. This is the point that we determined we needed outside resources to ramp up our diagnostic capabilities. When you hear reports out of Washington about the farm bill, you may not realize the work that is supported within states to perform ag research and enhance marketing. The Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) Program funded through USDA has been exceptionally beneficial to Montana seed potato growers. The first funding we Count on Techmark for all of your storage ventilation needs. Contact us at 517-322-0250. www.techmark-inc.com 164588TecMar12h.indd 1 7/24/17 10:51 AM

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