Potato Spindle Tuber Disease, Symptoms & Preventions - FeraxFarm

Potatoes, scientifically known as Solanum tuberosum, are an essential food source worldwide. However, various diseases significantly threaten potato production, reducing crop quality and yield. One such disease is potato spindle tuber disease.

This viral infection, caused by a small RNA molecule known as a viroid, targets the tubers—the underground fruit of the potato plant. The disease can lead to stunted growth, deformed tubers, and reduced marketability of the harvest. 

Understanding the causes and prevention methods for spindle tuber disease in potatoes is essential for farmers and stakeholders involved in potato production. 

Potato Spindle Tuber Disease

                 William M. Brown Jr., Bugwood.org, Potato spindle tuber viroid 5356693CC BY 3.0

Understanding Spindle Tuber Disease

Potato Spindle Tuber Disease, or PSTVd, is a viral disease affecting potato plants. A viroid, a small, single-stranded RNA molecule, causes it.

The disease primarily infects the tubers and can lead to various physiological disorders, including stunting, deformation, and reduced marketability of potatoes.

What Causes Potato Spindle Tuber Disease?

The primary cause of spindle tuber disease is the introduction and spread of infected plant material. The viroid can be transmitted through infected seed potatoes, mechanically through tools, and vegetative propagation. 

It is important to note that the viroid is not seed-borne but can persist in the tubers for extended periods, leading to future infections.

Symptoms and Identification 

Symptoms of spindle tuber disease in potatoes may vary depending on the potato variety, environmental conditions, and the stage of infection. Some common symptoms include:

  • Spindle-shaped, elongated tubers: Infected potato tubers develop a long, spindle-like shape, deviating from their typical rounded form. This abnormality is a characteristic feature of spindle tuber disease.
  • Deformed and misshapen tubers: The disease causes the tubers to become distorted and misshapen. Instead of having a uniform and smooth appearance, infected tubers may exhibit irregular bumps, growths, or protrusions.
  • Reduced yield and poor quality tubers: The disease can decrease the overall yield of potato crops. The infected plants produce fewer tubers, and the quality of the harvested tubers is compromised, resulting in reduced market value.
  • Stunted and chlorotic plants: Infected potato plants exhibit stunted growth, failing to reach their expected height. Additionally, the leaves of these plants may display chlorosis, which is the yellowing or whitening of the foliage. Chlorosis is often accompanied by overall weakness and reduced vigor in the affected plants.
  • Leaf curling and distortion: As the disease progresses, the leaves of infected plants may exhibit curling and warping. The leaf margins may curl upward or inward, and the leaves may become twisted or distorted.

These symptoms collectively serve as indicators of the presence of spindle tuber disease in potatoes. Recognizing these signs is crucial for implementing appropriate management strategies to mitigate the disease’s impact on potato crops.

Laboratory testing and diagnostic techniques such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) can be employed to identify the disease accurately.

Also Read: Bacterial Leaf Blight of Rice Causes and Prevention

Transmission and Spread of Spindle Tuber Disease 

The disease spreads through various methods. Here are the main causes and modes of transmission for spindle tuber disease:

Infected Potatoe Seeds

One of the primary causes of PSTVD is using infected seed potatoes for planting. If the seed potatoes carry the viroid, they can introduce the disease into the soil, leading to the infection of subsequent potato plants.

Mechanical Transmission

The viroid can be mechanically transmitted through contaminated tools and equipment. When tools, such as knives or machinery, come into contact with infected potato plants or tubers, they can transfer the viroid to healthy plants during cultivation or processing.

Vegetative Propagation

Another transmission mode is through vegetative propagation methods, such as cutting or grafting. If infected plant material is used for propagation, the viroid can be passed on to the new plants, perpetuating the disease.

It is important to note that the viroid causing Spindle Tuber Disease is not seed-borne, meaning it does not infect the actual seeds of the potato plant.

However, if those tubers are used for planting, they can persist in the tubers for extended periods, leading to potential infections in subsequent crops.

Preventing the introduction and spread of infected plant material is crucial to controlling spindle tuber disease in potatoes.

Using certified disease-free seed potatoes and practicing proper sanitation measures can significantly reduce the risk of infection and preserve the health of potato crops.

Impact on Potato Crop

Spindle tuber disease can have severe consequences for potato crops, significantly impacting both quality and yield. Infected tubers often exhibit deformities and irregular shapes, reducing the market value and consumer acceptance. 

Moreover, the disease affects the overall productivity of potato plants, leading to stunted growth and lower yields. Farmers may experience financial losses due to the decreased marketability of the harvest. 

Additionally, the reduced availability of healthy potatoes can affect food security in regions reliant on this staple crop. 

The impact of spindle tuber disease underscores the importance of implementing preventive measures to safeguard potato crops and ensure a stable food supply.

Prevention and Control Measures

Prevention and control are crucial to mitigate the impact of spindle tuber disease on potato  crop. Implementing integrated management strategies can help reduce the incidence and spread of the disease.

Here are some practical measures:

Cultural Practices

Cultural methods that can help prevent this disease include:

Crop Rotation

Rotate potato crops with non-host plants to break the disease cycle and reduce the buildup of pathogens in the soil.


Properly dispose of infected plant material and maintain clean tools and equipment to minimize the spread of the viroid.

Use Certified Seed Potatoes

Purchase them from reputable sources that undergo strict testing and certification processes to ensure they are pathogens-free.

Biological Control

Introduce beneficial organisms such as predatory insects or nematodes that feed on vectors carrying the viroid.

Plant-Resistant Potato Varieties

Select varieties that exhibit resistance or tolerance to potato spindle tuber disease. These varieties can withstand infections and show minimal symptoms.

Chemical Treatments

Chemical treatment includes:


Apply fungicides during the growing season to protect the potato plants from infections and reduce the spread of the disease.


Spindle tuber disease in potatoes is a significant concern for potato farmers worldwide. Understanding the causes and prevention measures is crucial for maintaining healthy potato crops and ensuring food security.

By implementing proper cultural practices, selecting certified seed potatoes, practicing sanitation, utilizing chemical treatments, adopting integrated pest management, and planting resistant varieties, farmers can effectively manage the disease and protect their potato crops.


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