Canta – day 2

Apparently, we are again visiting Canta outside the tourist season. However, this time that did not result in a bigger room, but in an absence of breakfast. Luckily we are close to the village, where we could score some typical hot and glutenous drink of which I forgot the name. More important was that it warmed us and it gave us energy for the day to come. By 6:45 we were on our way.

Today we had planned to get our hands on two species. Solanum corneleomullerii and Solanum habrochaites. The latter we had seen in large amounts on our way to Canta yesterday. The first one not so much, so we decided to go looking for this species first. So we drove further north, up the mountain. At about 3100 m altitude, we found a very nice site with loads of plants to sample.
This made hungy for more, so we drove on. Unfortunately, the landscape changed. I mean, everything look nice and lush and green, but there were no tomatoes to be found. We hoped that the road would make a curve, so that we would end up on the preferred face of the mountain. That didn’t happen, yet after a while we were surrounded by at least 3 different wild potato species and a bunch of other solanum species.

We enjoyed a nice coffee and headed back down to Canta. We passed the village and went on to sample from the locations that we spotted yesterday. S. habrochaites is really a beautiful plant. This might sound weird, but it is very much greener than other tomatoes. It’s also bigger, hairier and it smels a lot stronger. What is also very nice is that, because the plants are so huge, they can be infected on one side with Alternaria and on the other side with Phytophthora (and possibly a lot more in between). Besides that, we noticed that really about 1 in 2 plants did not show any disease symptoms at all.

After so many nice observations, some extensive sampling and an absence of lunch due to geographical circumstances (we were in the middle of nowhere), we decided to head back in time to Canta. Have a snack and a coffee, before going to the hotel. We’d be back relatively early, so that we would have enough time to prepare everything for tomorrow. By 17:00 we were back at the hotel, to find out that there was no power. We managed to get most of the preparations done before sunset, and finished off in the dark, before heading back in town for some Lomo Saltado. A wonderful beef dish, that should provide enough energy for tomorrow.

And for those of you who wondered what the weather was like today. It rained, alright.


As always with first time, we were a bit unprepared on our previous trip. This time, I send a much more extensive list of things that we should take with us, to prepare for all eventualities. So after a nice breakfast (that felt more like a lunch) I went downstairs and entered the main CIP complex and the labs. By 9 we had everything packed and ready to go. But suddenly the CIP security was not so sore whether we could take everything or whether we were even allowed to drive the vehicle that we rented. By 10:00 we left CIP.

The ride through Lima was slightly less painful than the last time we went this direction. We we were outside the City by 12:00 and had a nice lunch. As we were heading back the same way as one of the previous trips, we could also sample the same places. The first stop af the day was going to be Site 10 from the last trip. When we stopped there, I vaguely recognised the place, but I did not see the two obvious S. pimpinellifolium plants that Philippe had duly described on the last trip. We wandered around and found some small plants not far away growing next to another wild solanum species that showed some very nice Alternaria lesions and possibly a sign of P infestans as well. So, we decided to try all our sampling kit on the spot.
Philippe did not join the first part of this trip. Freddy is my new companion. He has been on many field trips to collect P infestans and other pathogens from potato fields, so this should be perfect. I did realise though that Philippe probably over three decades of experience in prospecting Ralstonia. I have just been an observer on that part last trip, and Freddy is also better with finding brown sport than wilting plants, so the whole endeavor took us rather long. When we headed back to the car, it became clear why I didn’t spot these two plants from last time. They we totally brown and drying out. Such a shame.


After this site, we went a few hundred meters further and found a second interesting location.

The second site of the day was going to be Site 11 from our previous trip. back then we found a very large number of beautiful S pennellii there. These plants were all still there, but many had lost part of their vigour. The weather forecast for the day predicted rain, but it actually was pretty dry and had been for a while. Nonetheless, there was enough to collect so we went for it.

The last site of the day was a new location. This time we have two days along the same road, so we could add one more stop in the lower area’s. Tomorrow we will go higher up, where according to everyone who I spoke to, it would be wetter. The drive up was indeed very different from last time. The river that was then only a tiny stream was now wide and gushing Andes water down to the coast. More strikingly though. At the end of January there had been a number of huge thunderstorms, so on many places, the road was filled with dirt and mud from land slides. Some parts of the road were completely gone and at least in 5 occasions, a large boulder blocked half of the road. However, the higher we drove, the greener the landscape. We could see mist coming in and the temperature dropped to 16 degrees. Our favourite plant pathogens might really like it here. 😉

Here we go again


I’m wide awake and I feel like I’ve done all the sleeping that I could do. Unfortunately, it’s only been 4 hours since I went to bed. Some people say sleeping is just something you do when you switch off your thoughts, but I cannot switch off. It’s leg two of our SPiRaSol explorations. We’ll be looking for Phytophthora and Ralstonia in wild tomatoes again.

Today I will go back to Canta. One of the more easily accessible and interesting places from last time. I want to see the effect of the season and I want to take some extra samples in general. Philippe found some interesting bacterial samples there last time and I had unfortunately lost some samples from our day in Canta due to contaminations. At the same time, we want to experiment a bit more with different plates, media, storage methods and all those things.

Shall I open my laptop and look through all the things we are planning to do or maybe I should catch some more sleep.


02:30 I tried sleeping, but that really didn’t work. So let’s do what a true Peruvian would do. Crack open a bottle of Inka Cola (it’s yellow , sweet and not really good) and get to work!