In recent years two new diseases, brown spot and black pit, have been observed on potatoes in South Africa. Brown spot symptoms appear on the foliage as small brown lesions, whereas black pit symptoms appear on the tubers as small dark sunken lesions.
In this study the causal organism of brown spot and black pit of potatoes in South Africa was determined. During initial isolation, one fungus and two bacteria were isolated, which were included in the trial. Only the treatments where the fungal isolate was used in inoculation resulted in the development of brown spot lesions. The causal organism of brown spot and black pit were identified as Alternaria alternata which is consistent with other research.
To better understand the spread of Alternaria alternata between the plants and/or tubers a pot trial was conducted. It was observed that when planting an inoculated seed tuber brown spot may develop on foliage. But the daughter tubers harvested from plants infected with A. alternata will not necessarily develop black pit. Daughter tubers are most likely infected by A. alternata during harvesting and black pit lesions develop in high humidity in storage.
Cultivar resistance is one of the most important measures in controlling plant diseases. Cultivar susceptibility of thirteen South African potato cultivars (Avalanche, Buffelspoort, BP1, Fabula, Fianna, Frodo, Hertha, Labadia, Lanorma, Mondial, Pentland Dell, Up-To-Date and Van Der Plank) was evaluated. Pot trials showed that all the evaluated cultivars are susceptible to infection by Alternaria alternata. Various crops (tomatoes, cabbage, mustard, wheat, oats, tobacco and maize) were assessed to determine the host range of Alternaria alternata (potato pathotype) in rotation crops in South Africa potato growing regions. Of the crops evaluated, the pathogen was able to infect only tomato crops. Only wheat, maize and oats can safely be used in the crop rotation in South Africa, as various potato pathogens attack cabbage, mustard and tobacco plants.
This study will lead to a better understanding of brown spot and black pit diseases of potatoes in South Africa and globally. The study emphasise the need for further research which will help to reduce brown spot and black pit diseases of potato.
Dissertation (MSc Agric)--University of Pretoria, 2014.