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Keywords:

  • biological control;
  • bioreactor;
  • common scab;
  • phage bath;
  • potato tuber

A highly virulent and polyvalent Streptomyces phage was isolated from a potato field near Albany, Western Australia. The efficacy of the isolated phage to disinfest seed potato tubers artificially inoculated with a common scab-causing streptomycete was evaluated. The phage suspension was prepared in a mini-bioreactor. Diseased potatoes were bathed in a phage suspension (1 × 109 plaque-forming units per mL) for 24 h. The suspension was constantly circulated within a novel 25 L phage bath by means of an air-sparging pipe driven from an air compressor. Phage-treated scab-affected seed potatoes planted into free-draining polystyrene boxes containing steam-pasteurized field soil produced tuber progeny with significantly (P < 0·05) reduced levels of surface lesions of scab (1·2%) compared with tubers harvested from nonphage-treated tubers (23%). The number of scab lesions was also significantly reduced (P < 0·05) by phage treatment of mother tubers. No significant differences were recorded in weight, size or number of harvested tubers from phage-treated or nontreated mother tubers. This is the first in vivo study that has used Streptomyces phage to significantly disinfest seed potatoes of Streptomyces scabies and thereby reduce contamination of soil from seed-tuber-borne inoculum and reduce infection of daughter tubers.