Fig. 1 The asexual and sexual stages of the P. infestans life cycle. Modified from Schuman and D’Arcy (2000).
Late blight has been referred to as a ‘community disease’, due to its ability to spread rapidly from field to field under the right weather conditions. Asexual spores travel easily on the wind when the weather is cool and moist, and can rapidly infect neighboring fields. As such, understanding the symptoms of the disease and what to do when it is detected are essential to preventing an outbreak from rapidly turning into an epidemic.
In 2009, an epidemic of P. infestans occurred in the northeast, due in part to a lack of public understanding of the symptoms and impact of the pathogen (Fry et al. 2013). As part of the effort to increase communication between growers, home gardeners, extension agents, and the research community, USABlight.org was formed as a means for tracking outbreaks of P. infestans. It is hoped that through this website, we can provide both a tool for potato and tomato growers for managing late blight, and a way to better understand the movements and impact of this disease.
Danies, G., Myers, K., Mideros, M. F., Restrepo, S., Martin, F. N., Cooke, D. E. L., Smart, C. D., Ristaino, J. B., Seaman, A. J., Gugino, B. K., Grünwald, N. J., and Fry, W. E. 2014. An ephemeral sexual population of Phytophthora infestans in the northeastern United States and Canada. Plos ONE. Online journal. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0116354.
Fry, W. E., Myers, K., Roberts, P., McGrath, M. T., Everts, K., Secor, G., Seaman, A., Gevens, A. J., Seebold, Jr., K., Zitter, T. A., Gugino, B. K., Snover-Clift, K., McLeod, A., Johnson, S. B., Wyenandt, A., Danies, G., Judelson, H., Grünwald, N. J., Small, I. M., Ristaino, J., and Smart, C. D. 2013. The 2009 late blight pandemic in the eastern United States – causes and results. Plant Disease 97:296–306.
Martin, M. G., Cappellini, E., Samaniego, J. A., Zepeda, M. L., Campos, P. F., Seguin-Orlando, A., Wales, N., Orlando, L., Simon, Y. W. H., Dietrich, F. S., Mieczkowski, P. A., Heitman, J., Willerslev, E., Krogh, A., Ristaino, J. B., and Gilbert, M. T. P. 2013. Reconstructing genome evolution in historic samples of the Irish potato famine pathogen. Nature Communications. Online journal. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms3172.
Schumann, G. L. 1991. The Irish potato famine and the birth of plant pathology. In: Plant Diseases: Their Biology and Social Impact. APS Press, American Phytopathological Society.
Schumann, G.L. and D’Arcy, C. J. 2000. Late blight of potato and tomato. The Plant Health Instructor. DOI: 10.1094/PHI-I-2000-0724-01