Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Threat of establishment of non-indigenous potato blackleg and tuber soft rot pathogens in Great Britain under climate change.

Abstract

Potato blackleg and soft rot caused by Pectobacterium and Dickeya species are among the most significant bacterial diseases affecting potato production globally. In this study we estimate the impact of future temperatures on establishment of non-indigenous but confirmed Pectobacterium and Dickeya species in Great Britain (GB). The calculations are based on probabilistic climate change data and a model fitted to disease severity data from a controlled environment tuber assay with the dominant potato blackleg and soft rot-causing species in GB (P. atrosepticum), and three of the main causative agents in Europe (P. carotovorum subsp. brasiliense, P. parmentieri, Dickeya solani). Our aim was to investigate if the European strains could become stronger competitors in the GB potato ecosystem as the climate warms, on the basis of their aggressiveness in tubers at different temperatures. Principally, we found that the tissue macerating capacity of all four pathogens will increase in GB under all emissions scenarios. The predominant Pectobacterium and Dickeya species in Europe are able to cause disease in tubers under field conditions currently seen in GB but are not expected to become widely established in the future, at least on the basis of their aggressiveness in tubers relative to P. atrosepticum under GB conditions. Our key take-home messages are that the GB potato industry is well positioned to continue to thrive via current best management practices and continued reinforcement of existing legislation.