The use of healthy seed tubers is of paramount importance in potato production. Diseases infecting potatoes and spreading viral tubers can cause yield losses of up to 80% and significant quality deterioration.
- The basis of healthy seed tuber production is the disinfection of infected plants under laboratory conditions and then the propagation of treated raw materials by tissue culture. This plant biotechnology procedure is part of everyday agricultural practice, Judit Dobránszki, head of the Agricultural Genomics and Biotechnology Center of the Faculty of Agriculture, Food Science and Environmental Management, told hirek.unideb.hu. However, the distribution of viruses in the plant is not uniform.
Most viruses cannot be found in the growth points (meristem), so we can get virus-free raw materials by laboratory culturing the meristem cut from the shoot apex. However, in the case of certain pathogens, this method of tissue propagation alone is not sufficient, it must be combined with heat or chemotherapy - explained Judit Dobránszki.
Chemotherapy is most commonly used to decontaminate potatoes. Virazol (Ribavirin), which is also used in human medicine during treatment, is most often used to prevent the growth of viruses. Through viral decontamination based on the plant biotechnology method, healthy plants provide a good starting point for pathogen-free propagation due to their favourable physiological condition. With the help of the developed treatment method, a seed material can be produced that can provide farmers with a better average yield and a healthier crop.
Development of antiviral methods was carried out in the framework of the project “Potato resistance research to mitigate the destruction of global climate change” (AGR_PIAC_13-1-2013-0006) and through the support of the Biotechnology theme area of the Thematic Excellence Program (TKP2020-IKA-04) announced by the Ministry of Innovation and Technology .