A field-deployable diagnostic tool to fast track quality assured seed potatoes in Kenya

Bacterial wilt, caused by Ralstonia solanacearum species complex (RSSC), is a serious threat to potato production in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ralstonia is one of the most significant limitations to clean seed production, an essential component of high yields. It has resulted in 30-100% potato yield losses putting a huge dent in the food security and livelihoods of many smallholder farmers.

To this end, through the support from GIZ-BMZ funded project on “Improved Diagnostics and genetic/molecular diversity of Ralstonia from Kenya and Uganda” CIP and KEPHIS conducted a two-day training program aimed at capacity building of East African countries’ seed regulatory and phytosanitary authorities as well as private diagnostic clinic personnel on the use of “field deployable LAMP assay to detect Ralstonia from stem, tuber and soil sample.

The training program, held at the KEPHIS Plant Quarantine and Bio-safety station at Muguga, Kenya, brought together 40 participants from Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, who went through theoretical and practical sessions.

The trainees got hands-on training on how to detect Ralstonia from stem, tuber and soil where they participated in extraction, preparation and testing samples using the LAMP assay. They were also taken through the assay validation process where they were shown sigmoid curves that show positive tests for Ralstonia.

Trainees were impressed with the technology as it requires fewer reagents, simple laboratory skills and expertise and helps in making informed and fast decisions on whether to accept or reject potato seed in the field.

George Ngundo, senior inspector and diagnostician at KEPHIS Muguga appreciated the use of the technique as it is specific and suggested adoption and use during inspections, surveillance and at border points. He further added that, other protocols for diagnosis of various diseases using LAMP assay should be developed.

Read the full story on the CIP website here