Powdery scab of potato caused by Spongospora subterranea is one of the main disease problems in many potato production regions of the world. However, no efficient and economically sound control method is currently available. Host resistance will be a key component of the integrated management of powdery scab, but there are discrepancies in published powdery scab resistance ratings of cultivars between countries. In order to identify the main factors causing such discrepancies, 10 reference cultivars thought to have a range of susceptibility to powdery scab and potato mop-top virus were cropped over 4 years in four to six locations across Europe and disease levels on roots and tubers were assessed using standardized scoring scales. Soil contamination was tested using real-time PCR and ELISA. The cultivars performed as expected according to previous characterization, with one exception. No relationship was found between tuber and root susceptibility. Assessment of powdery scab symptoms 1 month before harvest gave results comparable to those assessed 2 months after harvest. Neither real-time PCR nor ELISA soil test results were closely related to disease index data. The field trial results indicate that different scoring methods are the main factor for the discrepancy in resistance ratings, and that environmental conditions and⁄or soil inoculum level play a minor role. Furthermore, there was either no difference between the pathogen populations in each location or the resistance of most of the cultivars is polygenic.
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