Pests and Diseases, Research

New technique accelerates isolation of potato late blight resistance genes

A team of scientists from The Sainsbury Laboratory (TSL) and The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) have developed a new method to accelerate isolation of plant disease resistance genes. The team have also identified a brand new source of blight resistance genes in Solanum americanum, a wild relative of the potato. Plant pathogens such as late blight can evolve rapidly to overcome resistance genes, so scientists are constantly on the hunt for new resistance genes. Professor Jonathan Jones and colleagues from his lab at TSL pioneered the new technique, called “SMRT RenSeq,” and believe it will significantly reduce the time it takes to define new resistance genes. The team plan to stack several resistance genes together in one plant, to make it much harder for pathogens to evolve to overcome the plant’s defenses. Potato late blight costs UK potato farmers alone around £55 million ($80 million) a year. More

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