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Potato powdery scab caused by Spongospora subterranea subsp. subterranea (Sss) causes extensive damage to the quality and marketability of tubers. Disease outbreaks in potatoes grown in virgin soils in south Israel, lead us to the hypothesis that wind-driven inoculum may also be a source of new infections. Wind and ground traps (13 of each type) were positioned near contaminated commercial potato fields with a history of powdery scab in two plots during 2013–14 (‘Nave 5’ and ‘Nave 89’). Quantification of pathogen density in soil/dust was carried out by DNA extraction and qPCR analysis. In ‘Nave 5’ plot, 58 and 45% (December and January, respectively) and 75 and 50% of the ground and wind traps, respectively, were Sss-positive, with no significant differences in Sss concentrations. In ‘Nave 89’ plot, the percentage of Sss-positive traps increased from 31% and 18% in the ground and wind traps, respectively, in February, to 100% in both trap types, in April, with no significant differences. Evaluation of the dispersal distance of Sss inoculum from contaminated fields was examined in soil samples taken from the top layer of the ground in the uncultivated area adjacent to the contaminated commercial potato fields with a history of powdery scab, in two sites (‘Nave 5’ and ‘Shalom 7’) during 2016. All soil samples, taken from uncultivated areas near the infested fields in various distances of up to 750 m, were Sss positive. This study demonstrated that Sss can be dispersed by wind, particularly in an intensive potato production region where contaminated fields exist. 

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Aerial dispersal of Spongospora subterranea sp. f. subterranea, the causal agent of potato powdery scab
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Aerial dispersal of Spongospora subterranea sp. f. subterranea, the causal agent of potato powdery scab

Potato powdery scab caused by Spongospora subterranea subsp. subterranea (Sss) causes extensive damage to the quality and marketability of tubers. Disease outbreaks in potatoes grown in virgin soils in south Israel, lead us to the hypothesis that wind-driven inoculum may also be a source of new infections. Wind and ground traps (13 of each type) were positioned near contaminated commercial potato fields with a history of powdery scab in two plots during 2013–14 (‘Nave 5’ and ‘Nave 89’). Quantification of pathogen density in soil/dust was carried out by DNA extraction and qPCR analysis. In ‘Nave 5’ plot, 58 and 45% (December and January, respectively) and 75 and 50% of the ground and wind traps, respectively, were Sss-positive, with no significant differences in Sss concentrations. In ‘Nave 89’ plot, the percentage of Sss-positive traps increased from 31% and 18% in the ground and wind traps, respectively, in February, to 100% in both trap types, in April, with no significant differences. Evaluation of the dispersal distance of Sss inoculum from contaminated fields was examined in soil samples taken from the top layer of the ground in the uncultivated area adjacent to the contaminated commercial potato fields with a history of powdery scab, in two sites (‘Nave 5’ and ‘Shalom 7’) during 2016. All soil samples, taken from uncultivated areas near the infested fields in various distances of up to 750 m, were Sss positive. This study demonstrated that Sss can be dispersed by wind, particularly in an intensive potato production region where contaminated fields exist. 

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