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 and 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?

Virus testing

Scottish Aphid Borne Virus Working Group: recommendations for 2020

The working group is a consortium of Scottish researchers with an interest in virus, representatives come from: SRUC, Scottish Agronomy Ltd, SASA, The James Hutton Institute, AHDB and McCain.

Recommendations are updated periodically based on the latest research and information as it becomes available. The latest update was made in May 2020,

Download the guidelines: Virus management in seed potatoes 2020

Aphid forecasting

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/s, 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 up to eight regions.

Aphid monitoring