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Biochemical and bioassay analysis of resistance of potato cultivars to attack by the slug Deroceras reticulatum


, : Biochemical and bioassay analysis of resistance of potato cultivars to attack by the slug Deroceras reticulatum. Annals of Applied Biology 124(1): 109-131

A method is described for using young field slugs Deroceras reticulatum (Muller) in a bioassay study of biochemical resistance of potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) cultivars to slugs. Tuber parts or an artificial diet were provided as food sources. Comparisons were made of feeding, survival and weight gain between the susceptible cultivar Maris Piper and the resistant cultivar Pentland Dell. Biochemical analyses were made of these two cultivars and the resistant cultivars Stormont Enterprise and Majestic. Comparisons of tuber sections and peelings as food sources indicated factors affecting growth were located in the surface layers of the tubers. Phenolics and glycoalkaloids were concentrated in the surface layers but the amounts were similar in the susceptible and resistant cultivars and the bioassays indicated that neither acting alone could explain resistance. The amounts and distribution of free amino acids also did not correlate with resistance although when supplied in the artificial diet they partly inhibited feeding. Proteinaceous inhibitors of slug gut proteolytic enzymes were present throughout the tubers but were not concentrated in the surface layers and the amounts were similar in the different cultivars thus they too did not explain the difference in susceptibility between the cultivars. Bioassays using acetone extracts (low molecular weight substances) and acetone powders (high molecular weight substances) either alone or in combination indicated that the resistant cultivar Pentland Dell contained a high molecular weight substance which together with a low molecular weight substance from either the same cultivar or the susceptible Maris Piper could confer resistance. Bioassays using protein extracts supplied in the presence or absence of chlorogenic acid indicated that this mechanism could comprise enzymic oxidation of phenolics. Assays of phenolase confirmed this since activity was highest in the outer layers of the tubers and was highest in the three resistant cultivars. Thus the chief resistance factor identified was high phenolase activity acting rapidly on phenolics when the slug first bites the tuber surface. The quantity of phenolics per se did not control the resistance. Thus while phenolics must be available, resistance is compatible with low blackening on cutting the tuber.

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