GMO, Pests and Diseases, Research, Trends, Varieties

Late blight resistant potatoes, improved through GM show promise in CIP labs

The variety ‘Desiree’ totally damaged by Phytophthora infestans (Left) whereas two transgenic events with the 3R-gene stack (Right) present high level of resistance.Results from early trials conducted by CIP, show great promise in the global quest to tame late blight, the scourge of smallholder potato farmers and large producers globally. “Everywhere you grow potatoes, you have late blight,” says Marc Ghislain, program leader at CIP. “It is the number-one disease afflicting potato crops.” Conventional potato breeding is slow and unpredictable, CIP program leader Greg Forbes notes, often taking decades to produce a new cultivar. By the time a gene is successfully introduced into a cultivated variety, the late blight pathogen may already have evolved the ability to overcome it. Because of this, fungicides are the primary means farmers have to attempt to stave off against late blight’s advance, says Ghislain. “There would be a significant impact if we could provide to the smallholder a [potato] variety that is less dependent on fungicides” to thrive, he explains. More

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