Varietal susceptibility of potatoes to wireworm herbivory
1 Wireworms, the soil dwelling larvae of click beetles, Agriotes spp., have recently become a more prevalent pest of potatoes. The present study investigated whether potato varieties showed variable susceptibility to wireworm herbivory, and also tested whether increased susceptibility was associated with lower concentrations of glycoalkaloids. Twelve varieties were originally screened across a range of experimental scales, including laboratory and tunnel experiments and a large-scale field trial involving over 2000 tubers.
2 In laboratory no-choice tests, Maris Peer, Marfona and Rooster varieties were significantly more susceptible to wireworm attack, with 63% of tubers showing damage, compared with just 15% of the less susceptible varieties of King Edward, Nadine and Maris Piper. There was also greater tissue consumption and weight gain when wireworms were reared on the most susceptible varieties.
3 In choice tests, wireworms showed a significant preference for those varieties previously identified as being the most susceptible to wireworm herbivory (4.2 holes per tuber) compared with the least susceptible (1.2 holes per tuber). Similar patterns of susceptibility were seen in the field trial, although there was generally more variation in susceptibility.
4 In a tunnel experiment, Marfona and Maris Peer were significantly more susceptibile to wireworm attack (47% of tubers showing damage) compared with Nadine, King Edward and Maris Piper (27% of tubers showing damage). Although Nadine, in particular, had the highest glycoalkaloid concentrations (309.33 mg/kg) and lowest amounts of wireworm herbivory, the relationship between susceptibility and glycoalkaloid concentrations was weak, suggesting that this is unlikely to be the sole mechanism underpinning varietal susceptibility.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Scottish Agronomy Ltd., Arlary Farm, Milnathort, Kinross, Fife, KY13 9SJ, U.K.
Publication date: 2008-05-01