Project PataFEST Officially Launched in Madrid

The 18-partner PataFEST Consortium held its official kick-off meeting, aiming to pioneer innovative strategies to control pests, identify resistance genes, and enhance post-harvest preservation through advanced technologies.

Project PataFEST Officially Launched in Madrid

Madrid, Spain - In a significant milestone for Europe's potato industry, the PataFEST project was officially inaugurated with a kick-off meeting in Madrid. This initiative, funded by the European Union, comes at a time when the European potato sector faces daunting challenges posed by pests and soilborne pathogen diseases. Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum (CLso), the bacterial culprit responsible for the devastating Zebra Chip (ZC) disease, is a particular cause for concern, with the psyllid vector Bactericera cockerelli (BC) implicated in its transmission. These issues have resulted in substantial yield losses and a decline in potato quality, not to mention the persistent threats of postharvest diseases like dry rot, black dot, and silver scurf, which are caused by soil-borne pathogens.

The PataFEST consortium, composed of 18 partners, including international collaboration with Ecuador, held its official kick-off meeting in Madrid on 21st and 22nd June. Led by Funditec, this consortium brings together experts from various fields, all dedicated to safeguarding Europe's potato industry. During the two-day event, project partners showcased their organizations, engaged in fruitful discussions, and charted the course for the 4 years ahead.

PataFEST's primary objective is to pioneer innovative strategies that will control potato pests and mitigate post-harvest diseases. The project aims to identify resistance genes in potato varieties against selected pests and pathogens. This groundbreaking approach will pave the way for advanced preharvest plant and soil treatments, incorporating state-of-the-art digital technologies, including mobile app-based image analysis tools and artificial intelligence predictive models. Furthermore, the project will develop cutting-edge postharvest technologies such as biocontrol coating solutions, controlled atmosphere storage, and volatile organic compound (VOC) sensors to combat soil pathogens and preserve the quality of stored potato tubers.

With PataFEST's forward-looking vision and collective expertise, Europe's potato industry stands poised to overcome its challenges and secure a prosperous future.