Managing the mop-top virus

LONGEVITY: The potato mop-top virus can remain infectious for a long time. Wikimedia Commons picture

A JOINT Biosecurity New Zealand and Potatoes New Zealand response to the crop disease potato mop-top virus (PMTV) has been finalised, with industry taking the lead on long-term management.

PMTV was confirmed in New Zealand in September 2018, initially concentrated in grower paddocks in Canterbury.

A national survey to determine the extent of the disease has now been completed and the virus has been confirmed throughout the country north to south, indicating that it has been in New Zealand for a long period of time.

“It became evident earlier into the response that this disease couldn’t be eradicated and that the best outcome for potato growers was for industry management long-term,” said Biosecurity New Zealand’s acting director of readiness and response services, Sam Leske.

Biosecurity NZ will continue to support the industry in helping them develop the long-term management plan, which will include non-regulatory controls and voluntary agreement.

It is the first time the two organisations have worked together on a biosecurity response since signing up to the Government Industry Agreement (GIA). Potatoes New Zealand chief executive Chris Claridge said it was a successful end to the first joint response.

“We’ve got a plan in development and that will incorporate research from world experts, in line with best practice. A positive outcome to date is that there have been no significant losses to growers attributed to the disease.

“This response is an example of how a good partnership between government and industry works to eventually help industry to be in a position to mitigate impacts posed by biological incursions and to support decision-making for the future.”

Biosecurity NZ said potato mop-top virus (PMTV) is a plant virus that largely affects potatoes. It gets transmitted by the soil-borne fungus Spongospora subterranea that causes powdery scab, a common disease of potatoes.

Once established in fields, the virus can survive in the resting spores of the fungus in soil for at least 18 years. Consequently, paddocks infected with powdery scab and PMTV will remain infectious for a long time.

“Eradication of PMTV in the presence of powdery scab is not possible, but it can be managed,” Biosecurity NZ said.

“There are no food safety risks from eating potatoes that have the PMTV virus. Potatoes remain safe to eat.”

A JOINT Biosecurity New Zealand and Potatoes New Zealand response to the crop disease potato mop-top virus (PMTV) has been finalised, with industry taking the lead on long-term management.

PMTV was confirmed in New Zealand in September 2018, initially concentrated in grower paddocks in Canterbury.

A national survey to determine the extent of the disease has now been completed and the virus has been confirmed throughout the country north to south, indicating that it has been in New Zealand for a long period of time.

“It became evident earlier into the response that this disease couldn’t be eradicated and that the best outcome for potato growers was for industry management long-term,” said Biosecurity New Zealand’s acting director of readiness and response services, Sam Leske.

Biosecurity NZ will continue to support the industry in helping them develop the long-term management plan, which will include non-regulatory controls and voluntary agreement.

It is the first time the two organisations have worked together on a biosecurity response since signing up to the Government Industry Agreement (GIA). Potatoes New Zealand chief executive Chris Claridge said it was a successful end to the first joint response.

“We’ve got a plan in development and that will incorporate research from world experts, in line with best practice. A positive outcome to date is that there have been no significant losses to growers attributed to the disease.

“This response is an example of how a good partnership between government and industry works to eventually help industry to be in a position to mitigate impacts posed by biological incursions and to support decision-making for the future.”

Biosecurity NZ said potato mop-top virus (PMTV) is a plant virus that largely affects potatoes. It gets transmitted by the soil-borne fungus Spongospora subterranea that causes powdery scab, a common disease of potatoes.

Once established in fields, the virus can survive in the resting spores of the fungus in soil for at least 18 years. Consequently, paddocks infected with powdery scab and PMTV will remain infectious for a long time.

“Eradication of PMTV in the presence of powdery scab is not possible, but it can be managed,” Biosecurity NZ said.

“There are no food safety risks from eating potatoes that have the PMTV virus. Potatoes remain safe to eat.”

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