January 2022 - 30

on-farm collaboration. In October
2020, the grower committed his field
roguing crew for two days of paid labor
for tuber sampling - handling tubers
being one of the barriers to lab-based
molecular testing.
The crew were trained onsite to
place tuber samples on FTA cards
that were shipped to a USDA-ARS
lab for downstream analysis in lieu of
shipping tubers. In return, the grower
received a competitive advantage with
early results about his seedlots in
November as compared to the existing
standard of February results from the
winter grow outs.
WHAT WAS LEARNED
Collectively, the team gained valuable
insight that this project has some " how
to " components that must be addressed
for scalability. When the results were
presented to the seed grower cooperator,
there was a discussion that supported
the need for a larger dataset involving
cooperators from different states and seed
lots so data with higher confidence could
be obtained. The experiment has been
repeated with 2021 harvested seed lots
and additional seed growers from Idaho,
Colorado, Nebraska and Washington.
Those growers had all received their own
confidential seed test results for PVY,
PMTV and TRV by Nov. 18 this year and
are awaiting the results from grow out
tests of those tubers for comparison.
ON THE HORIZON
The NPC Vision 2026 program seeks
ultimately to allow the potato industry
to use the latest high-throughput
testing technology, some developed
because of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and
its variants. Vision 2026 members are
actively seeking partners to do so. This
seed grower driven-project to develop
a farm and lab model for adoption of
commercial high throughput PCRbased
seed potato testing as well as
identify and mitigate barriers for wider
scale
adoption of this
approach is
perhaps what the NPC envisioned.
Anticipated seed potato grower
participation in this project driven by
the prospects of obtaining results faster
than conventional winter grow outs is
expected to boost the acceptance of this
new approach by the potato industry in
the U.S.
Alternatively, transitioning to a high
throughput molecular-based diagnostic
will collectively provide the potato
industry with faster, more accurate
seed health data, which should improve
future quality and hopefully improve
commercial crop trade security.
We're proceeding with caution,
however. This decade-long growerdriven
approach to develop and bring
this method up to scale should guard
against over-regulation and over-testing
of seed potatoes, all while allowing
for flexibility to respond to emerging
diseases.
- Chakradhar Mattupalli, Ph.D., is
an Assistant Professor at Washington
State University. Amy Charkowski,
Ph.D., professor and Agricultural Biology
Department Head at Colorado State
University. Jason Ingram, MS., and Melanie
J. Filiatrault, Ph.D., are scientists for the
USDA's Agricultural Research Service,
contributed to this report.
28
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