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About Potato Virus Y (PVY )

Potato virus Y is a virus of the family Potyviridae, genus Potyvirus. It affects potatoes in two ways, reducing yield of the tubers and also compromising tuber quality. Some strains of PVY are also a concern for other solanaceous crops, such as pepper, tomato, tobacco and others. In the field, PVY exists as a complex of several strains, which may have different symptoms in different potato cultivars.

Vector — PVY is transmitted from infected plants to healthy ones by multiple species of aphids. Aphids are insects that are commonly found in and around the fields, feeding on plant sap. While feeding and moving between plants, they can transfer PVY, which attaches to stylet of the insect and can be moved to a healthy plant.

Symptoms — The most common symptoms of PVY in foliage are mosaic, crinkling, leaf deformations, and sometimes stunting and local or systemic necrosis. The most concerning is the increasing prevalence of tuber necrotic strains, which cause formation of raised necrotic rings on the surface of tubers of susceptible cultivars, called potato tuber necrotic ringspot disease (PTNRD).

Management — Currently, management of PVY relies on exclusion or limiting of virus inoculum through certification of potato seed lots, the use of virus-resistant cultivars and restricting aphid transmission through the use of crop oil spraying in the fields during the growing season.

Potato Virus Y

University of Maine Cooperative Extension crops specialist James Dwyer discusses the latest findings on Potato Virus Y, impacts on production, and recommended management strategies.