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Home > Plants, Pests & Pest Control > Insects & Pests > Potato Cyst Nematode

Potato Cyst Nematode

Gold- or yellow-colored cysts of golden nematode on potato roots (fingertip in background). Photo by Bonsak Hammeraas, Bioforsk - Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research, bugwood.org.Scientific name: Globodera rostochiensis (golden nematode) and Globodera pallida (pale cyst nematode)

Native range: Andes Mountains of South America

Regulatory Status: Regulated

There are currently no regulations in Minnesota because they have not been found in the state. However, negative survey results are generally required for export of seed potatoes from Minnesota due to general concerns about potato cyst nematodes because they are found in other areas. Potato cyst nematodes are regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to prevent their spread from currently infested areas in Idaho and New York. If potato cyst nematodes were found in Minnesota, state and federal regulations to restrict movement and control or eradicate potato cyst nematode would likely be implemented.


The pale cyst nematode is known to occur in Newfoundland, Canada and Idaho.

In Canada, the golden nematode is known to occur in Newfoundland, Vancouver Island, Quebec and Alberta. In the United States, strict quarantine measures have kept the golden nematode confined to nine counties in New York since 1941.

Neither species of potato cyst nematode has ever been detected in Minnesota.


Potato cyst nematodes (PCN) are soil-dwelling, worm-like organisms, less than 1mm in length. PCN feed on the roots of potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, and other plants in the Solanaceae family. As the female feeds she swells and erupts through to the outside of the root. If fertilized by a male, she will produce up to 500 eggs, then she dies and her exterior body wall hardens into a cyst to protect the eggs.

At Risk

Host Plants and Impact - High populations of PCN can reduce potato yields up to 80%. In the absence of host plants, the cysts remain dormant but alive in the soil for 20 years or more. Cysts are spread by soil on seed tubers, farm machinery, and roots or bulbs of other plants grown in infested fields. Cysts are also moved by wind and flood water. Fields of all types of potatoes (those for processing, those for baking whole, etc.) can have significant yield losses, but the risk of spreading PCN to new fields is greatest for potatoes sold for seed. Seed potatoes from PCN-infested fields may not be sold to Canada, and where present, trade with other countries is seriously impacted as well.

More Information

What Can Be Done?

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has been conducting surveys for PCN since 2006. The survey involves collecting, drying and analyzing soil samples from numerous locations throughout fields. For growers who plan to export seed potatoes, survey is essential. The MDA will be conducting cyst nematode surveys again in fall 2016, contact the MDA via Arrest the Pest for more information.

Arrest the Pest icon, report sightings by emailing arrest.the.pest@state.mn.us or call 888-545-6684

Last Updated: August 19, 2016