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Keywords:

  • AFLP fingerprinting;
  • epidemic parameters;
  • epidemiology;
  • potato late blight;
  • race structure

Genetic variation and pathogenicity of Phytophthora infestans isolates collected from organic potato crops of the susceptible cv. Bintje and the moderately resistant cv. Santé were assessed in France, Norway, and the United Kingdom in 2001 and in Switzerland in 2001 and 2002. Population structures differed considerably between the four P. infestans populations. Those from France, Switzerland and the UK were mainly clonal populations showing restricted levels of genetic diversity, whilst those from Norway were mixed A1 and A2 mating type populations with high levels of genetic diversity, suggesting periodical sexual reproduction. Isolates collected from cv. Bintje were on average more aggressive than or comparable to isolates from cv. Santé. Race complexity varied considerably between the regional P. infestans populations, with isolates from France and Switzerland showing the highest number of virulence factors. In all pathogen samples but the French, isolates collected from cv. Santé were more complex than isolates collected from cv. Bintje. No directional selection towards increased aggressiveness towards the more resistant cultivar Santé was observed. This suggests that there is no shift towards increased levels of pathogenicity in P. infestans populations following the large-scale introduction of more resistant potato varieties in organic production systems in Europe.