Agdia Announces Implementation of DNA Test for Dickeya Spp. in Potato

Agdia Announces Implementation of  DNA Test for Dickeya Spp. in Potato

Blackleg symptoms at base of stem. Photo courtesy of Amy Charkowski, Colorado State University


Agdia, Inc. (Elkhart, IN) has announced the implementation of a new PCR testing service for diagnosis of Dickeya spp. in potato.  

Dickeya species of bacteria that cause blackleg disease, are pathogens of specific concern for American potato producers.  Dickeya dianthicola and Dickeya solani have caused significant crop losses in Northern Europe for the past decade and recently, Dickeya was found on the Eastern seaboard of the U.S. Since their discovery, these pathogens have been identified in other states in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest growing regions and most recently Ontario, Canada.  Dickeya species are primarily spread through the planting of infected seed potato and favor warm and wet climates.  Symptoms may not be present on infected tubers and the disease may not manifest itself until after planting.  Buying certified seed lots that have been tested for Dickeya is crucial to preventing the spread of the pathogen. 

Agdia has recently validated a PCR testing protocol for detection of Dickeya.  PCR is a highly sensitive testing method used for amplifying pieces of DNA that are unique to a specific target of interest, in this case the member species of the genus Dickeya.  Using this method, Agdia Testing Services can reliably detect 1 infected tuber core in a composite of 100 cores.  By request, the same sample can be tested for bacterial ring rot (Cms), another bacteria of significant concern to potato growers.  Agdia offers reduced pricing when combining these two tests for the same submission of potato tubers, stems, or plantlets.

“The release of this new, validated testing service comes at a critical time for our potato growers worldwide. Routine PCR testing of production materials prior to distribution is the only way to control the spread of Dickeya. We hope to work with the USDA to ensure that U.S. potatoes are certified for export, and we will continue to test samples from international production locations to help control the spread of this disease and others” says Deborah Groth-Helms, Director of Agdia Testing Services.

Agdia’s Testing Services laboratory is an ISO/IEC 17025:2005 accredited laboratory and has recently obtained accreditation under a new USDA APHIS Potato Minituber Pathogen Testing Pilot program.  Under this pilot program, Agdia’s testing reports may be used as official documents for issuance of phytosanitary certificates related to export of U.S. potato minitubers.

Agdia’s Testing Services laboratory may be contacted at or 574-327-6071 for information on how to send samples.

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