Sec4.2 – 99
INTERNATIONAL POTATO CENTER
geranium, strawberry, and citrus; plants are treated at high temperatures,in screenhouses or growth chambers. The standard method for viruseradication in many vegetatively propagated crops is thermotherapycombined with meristem culture.Due to the fact that it takes many months for meristems to becomeplantlets, some researchers have tested the application of chemicalproducts (chemotherapy) that reduce or inhibit viral multiplication. In thecase of potato, three of the most important viruses, PVX, PVS, and PVY,have been eradicated by adding Ribavirin to the culture media andisolating the axillary buds (Griffiths et al., 1990).This chapter describes the methods that can be used to eliminatephytopathogens from infected material to produce pathogen-free plantsfor international distribution and propagation in potato seed productionprograms.
Nature of the phytopathogens
Pathogens that affect potato plants can be transmitted from diseased tohealthy plants through vectors or seed. The relative size of thesepathogens is variable. Among phytopathogens, nematodes are thebiggest and can be easily observed with a stereoscopic microscopy.Virus and viroids are the smallest, so an electronic microscope is neededfor their observation.The disease does not depend only on the presence of the host, but onenvironmental conditions as well, especially humidity and temperature,which play an important role. The disease can be defined as the productof the interaction among the host, pathogen, and environment.The distribution of different pathogens in a diseased plant also varies. Forexample,
, potato leaf roll virus (PLRV), andphytoplasmas are restricted to vascular tissue of the plant.
and potato virus X (PVX) invade the vascular tissue as well asthe rest of the other tissues of the plant.Not all the cells in a diseased plant become infected with pathogens. Themeristematic tissue of the root and the terminal sprouts of an infectedplant are sometimes pathogen-free. Sometimes, such as in potato withPVX and TRV (tobacco rattle virus), only the apical dome and the firstyoung primordial leaves are free of virus. The reason for this is unknown.Nevertheless, it is believed that one or more of the following factors areresponsible:
High metabolic activity
. Viruses multiply according to themetabolism of the host plant. Due to the high metabolic activity inmeristematic cells, the viruses are unable to take over control ofthe host biosynthetic machinery.
Lack of vascular tissue
. Viruses are rapidly disseminatedthrough the vascular system. Those located in the phloem (e.g.,PLRV) cannot invade the meristematic tissues because there is nocell differentiation in this zone. Viruses that infect non-vasculartissues are disseminated from cell to cell through intercell conduits