Potato Late Blight

Illustrated in the confocal z-axis sequence above is a thin section of potato tissue infected with this deadly fungus. The potato plant is a native of South America and has been cultivated by Native Americans for thousands of years. Introduced to Europe by the Spaniards in the mid 1500s, it was probably already carrying milder forms of the late blight fungus. It wasn't until 1844 that the virulent strain (speculated to be a single clonal genotype of P. infestans) arrived in Ostende, Belgium with a shipment of seed potatoes from the United States. Within two years, potato crops in Europe, as well as Ireland, had been largely destroyed.

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