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Society For General Microbiology : 16 June, 2007  (Technical Article)
According to research due to be presented at a Society for General Microbiology meeting at UMIST in Manchester, potato blight causes worldwide losses of
'In the past potato blight, Phytophthora infestans, was always thought to be a member of the fungal family, but now we know that it is more closely related to golden brown algae, which are commonly known as kelp or seaweed,' says Dr Pieter van West from the University of Aberdeen, 'This means that potato blight may have different mechanisms for infecting plants from the way a fungus typically attacks.'

According to the scientists, if they can find the precise molecular methods the blight uses to infect plants, and investigate the properties of the infection structures, then they may be able to target it. This will allow them to develop new disease control and resistance methods without necessarily having to spray the crop with harmful chemicals.

'Potatoes are the world's fourth most important crop plant, so global food security relies on effective control of infestations of potato blight,' says Dr van West. 'We urgently need to develop alternative crop control measures, including biological control and environmentally friendlier chemicals. Or perhaps even better, we may be able to develop resistant crop varieties through conventional breeding or GM techniques.'
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