Alternaria - Genetic characterization, chemotyping and disease development

Alternaria species, including A. solani and A. alternata are a serious threat for potato cultivation since heavy infections can lead to significant yield and quality losses. Both species cause necrotic symptoms, which cannot be visually distinguished. Over the past years, both pathogens have become increasingly important in NW Europe. Although the exact cause for this emerging problem remains elusive, it might be attributed to the combined effect of climate change, a reduced use of the dithiocarbamate fungicide mancozeb, the increased specificity of active ingredients to control Phythopthora infestans and the augmented production of high-yield susceptible cultivars. Furthermore, little is known about the Flemish Alternaria population and about the contribution of both species to the disease.
The main goal of this research is to identify the primary causal agent of potato early blight, to determine inter- and intraspecific diversity within the Alternaria population in Flanders, and to unravel the complex interaction between abiotic stress factors and the occurrence of Alternaria.

Contact: Michiel Vandecasteele
Funding: University College Ghent Research Fund
Supervisors: Prof. dr. ir. G. Haesaert, Prof. dr. ir. M. Höfte, Prof. dr. apr. S. De Saeger
Co-supervisors: Dr. ir. K. Audenaert
Period: 2013-2018