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Aphid and Virus: Potatoes

The main virus species in GB potato crops is currently Potato Virus Y (PVY)

Primary infection occurs in the growing season and is aphid-borne. Secondary infection is tuber-borne.

One of the major threats to the health of seed potato crops is the transmission of viruses by aphids. The viruses may be persistent (e.g., Potato Leaf Roll Virus; PLRV) or non-persistent (e.g., potyviruses such as PVY, PVA). This distinction is important in determining how long it takes an aphid to acquire the virus from an infected host plant and transmit it on to another plant. This in turn has an impact on which aphids can transmit the virus and how to manage them using insecticides or other means.

AHDB has various tools and resources to help you monitor and manage aphids.

Virus detection/test methods

There are different approaches to virus assessment. Samples of tubers can be tested directly using a molecular test based on the polymerase chain reaction (real-time PCR methods often termed qPCR). Alternatively, plants are grown from the tuber sample and sap from the leaves of each test plant is tested using an antibody- based technique (ELISA). The latter has a longer turn-around time as breaking dormancy, growing plants and testing usually takes 4-6 weeks. The direct tuber testing of a single crop sample usually requires ~ 2 days.

Where can I get tubers virus tested?

More on virus testing

Aphid forcasting and monitoring

Long-term (56 years in 2020) aphid data (from the suction-trap network) and weather data (Met Office and others) is used to forecast the date of the first aphid flights, as well as aphid abundance in spring and early summer.

Aphid forecasts

Aphid Monitoring

You can sign up to be alerted to the first Peach Potato Aphid (Myzus persicae) found in a region or regions, and also when the index value in a region exceeds a given threshold (you have a choice of three thresholds). You can select the locations of traps you want to monitor by choosing from upto 8 regions.

Aphid monitoring for potatoes