Local researcher heads team to fight potato disease

by Larry Lemmons
Newschannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - A local Texas Agrilife Extension Researcher is hoping to put an end to a bacterial disease called the zebra chip, which could cost the potato industry billions of dollars.

Dr. Charlie Rush is heading up a national team of 20 researchers and they just got nearly 4-million dollars for their efforts.

Right now the disease is seen in Texas and in other producing states, costing producers millions. But if the disease gets to major producers like Idaho or Washington, it could be catastrophic for the industry.

Rush says, "We're working on almost every aspect you can think of in this disease from the very most applied pesticide application studies to very detailed molecular studies looking at interactions between the pathogen and the plant."

The disease does not harm consumers although it makes the product not taste as good.  The biggest potato export from Idaho, which does not have the disease, is in the form of french fries.