November 23, 2015 --
By Oregon State University Extension
Photo: This potato plant is severely infested with potato psyllids, carriers of zebra chip disease. Photo by Silvia Rondon
Researchers at Oregon State University are teaming with colleagues in Washington and Idaho to help farmers combat an insect-transmitted disease that could devastate the Pacific Northwest’s $9 billion potato crop.
Silvia Rondon, an OSU Extension entomologist, and Oregon State colleagues Stuart Reitz and Molly Engle, are collaborating with Northwest university and industry partners on a five-year, $2.7 million study of zebra chip disease, which discolors the flesh of potatoes and makes them unmarketable.
The disease is caused by a bacterium carried by a tiny flying insect called the potato psyllid. It has caused serious problems in the southwestern United States, severely damaging the potato crop and causing millions of dollars in losses, according to Washington State University entomologist Bill Snyder, the study’s co-leader.
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