Breeding, Consumers, Health/Nutrition/Food Safety, Research, Varieties

Universities bolster the US Potato Genebank’s impact

Land-grant universities are collaborating to support the United States Potato Genebank in its endeavors to conduct potato research, support creation of new potato varieties, and conserve specimens to overcome future growing challenges, like droughts, natural disasters, or emerging pests and diseases.  As the most widely grown and consumed vegetable in the US, improving potato varieties will impact everything from agricultural productivity, to jobs, to consumer health.  “The Genebank is helping sustain one of the most universally affordable and nutritious crops for future generations,” says Dr.John Bamberg, Project Leader for the US Potato Genebank. “In addition, the benefits to consumers are extensive. For example, new varieties of potatoes with higher levels of essential nutrients can promote good health of U.S. citizens.” Developing new potato varieties also has a huge economic impact. The value of potato production in the U.S. was around $3.9 billion in 2015, with over $1.3 billion in exports, but those numbers could soar.

“Potatoes with a strong resistance to disease can prevent crop losses and boost profits. Ultimately, this will increase our production and exports of the vegetable, as well as French fries, chips, and frozen potato products,” Dr. Bamberg states.

Since 1947, researchers, breeders, and farmers have relied on the U.S. Potato Genebank to collect and preserve potato specimens. In 2015, over 11,000 genetic samples from the Genebank were sent to 34 different U.S. states and ten countries.

The land-grant universities cooperating with the U.S. Potato Genebank include:

Colorado State University
Michigan State University
University of Minnesota
North Carolina State University
Oregon State University
University of Wisconsin
North Dakota State University
University of Idaho
University of Arizona
University of Nevada
University of California
University of Florida
Virginia Tech
Washington State University
Texas A&M University

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