Potato Cyst Nematode

Potato Cyst Nematodes: New Legislation, New Technology

New Legislation

Potato cyst nematodes (PCN) Globodera pallida and G. rostochiensis are serious pests of potato world wide, causing an estimated 12% crop yield loss. On 1 July 2010 a new EU PCN Directive came into force and increased sampling rates required by this new legislation mean that the number of soil samples SASA has to evaluate has risen from 6,000 to 18,000 per annum. SASA will not be able to fulfil its obligation using traditional methods of manually operated cyst extraction and visual examination of float material isolated from soil samples.

New Technology

  • An automated cyst extraction carousel is used to produce float material from soil samples.
  • An automated DNA extraction method is used to extract total DNA from these floats.
  • A new multiplex real-time PCR assay is used to detect PCN DNA from single cysts in a float. PCR set-up is carried out using a liquid handling robot. 
  • Using these new methods SASA can identify any PCN species present in up to 400 samples per day.

These new developments enable SASA to process up to 25,000 soil samples over a 6 month period, meeting our statutory obligations and maintaining the high health of Scottish seed potatoes.