Potato cyst nematodes (Globodera species)

Potato cyst nematodes (PCN) are microscopic round worms that feed on the roots of potato, tomato, aubergine, and other plants from the family of the Solanaceae (nightshade plants). It is a serious pest to potatoes that can cause complete crop failure if not controlled. It has the potential to cause significant damage to the Australian potato industry through crop losses and the loss of export markets.

There are two types of potato cyst nematode:

  • white or pale potato cyst nematode (Globodera pallida) is an exotic plant pest not present in Australia
  • yellow or golden potato cyst nematode (Globodera rostochiensis) is present in some areas of Victoria.

Potato cyst nematodes live and feed on the roots of potato and other hosts, causing significant damage to their root systems. Significant damage below the ground can be done before symptoms are even visible above ground.

The soil-borne pest is spread by wind, rain, water, transport of infected soil sticking to seeds, animals, equipment, clothing, and plants. Potato cyst nematodes can survive as cysts in the soil for up to 20 years in the absence of host species.

PCN is a declared notifiable pest under the South Australian Plant Health Act 2009.

Interstate quarantine controls, which were based on the treatment and certification of all vectors (potatoes, nursery stock, root vegetables, soil, used machinery, and equipment) produced/sourced from within 20 km of a known PCN detection have been replaced by property-based controls.

Infested land

Any defined paddock, or area, which has had a positive PCN in accordance with national sampling and testing regimes.

Hosts produced/sourced from infested land is prohibited entry into South Australia.

Linked land

Any land which:

  • has been farmed with equipment used on known PCN infested land
  • borders PCN infested land
  • receives direct drainage from PCN infested land, or
  • is currently, or has previously been planted with seed sourced from PCN infested land or land exposed to PCN as a result of a regulatory violation.

Under these quarantine controls, ‘linked’ growers can continue marketing their crops to most markets under pre-existing accreditation arrangements.

Un-infested Land

Any land which:

  • is not classified as a Linked Land and
  • with no-known PCN infestation.

South Australia issues an Area Freedom Certificate for PCN to facilitate trade.

All seed potatoes sold for planting will require mandatory PCN soil testing and industry adherence to a PCN Farm Hygiene Code of Practice.

More information

Report suspected detections of PCN

Page Last Reviewed: 17 Jun 2020
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