General Detection techniques for pathogens in sugar beet


SES VanderHave is a major player in the production of sugar beet seeds. For several years, the beet sector has been facing serious problems caused by various viral and bacterial pathogens. Correct identification of these pathogens is essential to be able to take targeted action and prevent further spread. SES VanderHave called on the ILVO Plant Living Lab experts for help.

Development of sensitive and robust detection techniques support the beet industry in their need for fast detection of emerging bacterial and viral infestations.

Kris De Jonghe (Researcher, ILVO)

One disease, the 'Syndrome of Basses Richesses' (SBR) is associated with ‘Ca. Arsenophonus phytopathogenicusandCa. Phytoplasma solani’, two phloem bacteria. Typical symptoms are leaf discoloration and deformation. This leads to reduced photosynthesis, which in turn results in reduced sugar content and lower root yield.

Syndrome of Basses Richesses (SBR) infestation in sugar beets (Schaerer et al., 2019)

In the first part of the project, ILVO developed tests for rapid, sensitive and reliable detection of both bacteria. Using the multiplex real-time PCR test, both pathogens can be simultaneously detected in the laboratory. In addition, with the LAMP (Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification) tests, both pathogens can be detected ‘on-site’ in beet samples with minimal pre-treatment.

The beet sector is also increasingly plagued by beet mild yellowing virus (BMYV), beet chlorosis virus (BChV), beet yellows virus (BYV) and beet mosaic virus (BMtV). These viruses mainly cause the yellowing of foliage, leading to a reduction in sugar content and yield loss.

Symptoms of beet mild yellowing virus (BMYV) (left) and beet chlorosis virus (BChV) (right) in sugar beets (Stevens et al., 2005)

In the second part of the project, a multiplex real-time PCR will be developed for the detection of these viral yellowing diseases. By developing this multiplex real-time PCR, these viruses can be detected in a timely way and immediate action can be taken to prevent further spread.

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