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Using Pathogen Detection Test
Kits for Rapid Potato Disease Diagnosis

September 2012

By Nora Olsen
Professor and Extension Potato Specialist
University of Idaho
Phone: 208-736-3621

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Misdiagnosing a disease can be very costly if unnecessary or ineffective control measures are made. There are many real-life examples where proper identification of a disease was not made until after avoidable inputs were applied, management changed, or rumors started. It would be beneficial to growers, fieldmen and extension personnel to have rapid and simple disease identification test kits available to make accurate initial disease diagnoses in the field. These test kits can also be helpful in eliminating disease misdiagnoses and identifying whether the issue is physiological or chemical and not due to a pathogen. A research and extension program was developed to evaluate the use of commercially available pathogen test kits and determine the accuracy of each test kit. Using potatoes as a test model, multiple test kits for numerous diseases were used, assessed and compared to results from traditional diagnostic methods. Results indicated the kits tested were reliable, easy to use, and accurate. Some limitations were observed but they were not restricting. Overall, the use of disease diagnostic test kits will provide an additional tool for greater accuracy, efficiency and sustainability.

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