Large-Scale RT-qPCR Diagnostics for Seed Potato Certification


Every year, Agroscope examines nearly 300,000 tubers for the presence of viruses, as regulated for the certification of seed potatoes intended for Swiss growers. Since 2016, this examination has been performed via RT-qPCR on dormant tubers directly after harvest. This method offers fast results and eliminates the need for the use of Rindite, which is a toxic and polluting gaseous compound previously used in Switzerland to break the dormancy of seed tubers. The implementation of this molecular analytical method for the routine diagnosis of regulated viruses makes it possible to conduct additional analyses via Illumina sequencing to assess the conformity of the primers and probes used with the sequences of the different viral isolates. This form of quality control in routine diagnosis is a source of information that can answer more fundamental scientific questions related to the epidemiology of viral strains related to certification. The datasets produced in this framework can also be used to explore the diversity of rare or unknown virus species in potato crops.