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New head of breeding program wants to save Maine potatoes from climate change

DNA science is gaining ground in agriculture, and researchers are using it to develop potatoes that will thrive in Maine’s changing climate. It’s all part of the University of Maine’s potato breeding program headed by Mario Andrade, assistant professor of potato breeding and genetics, as Paula Brewer reports for The County.

Andrade recently took over running the program from Gregory Porter, who retired at the end of 2023 after 38 years at UMaine. Andrade, who did doctoral work in both Brazil and Florida, joined the Orono campus in March. He has been working with Porter, who had led the university’s potato breeding effort since 2007. The two will continue to collaborate as Porter wraps up some projects.

In hot climates, diseases have more chances to develop, so breeding must focus on heat tolerance and disease and pest resistance. maine doesn’t have the heat problem, but drought and excess moisture are its major concerns, Andrade said. Using DNA to help advance potato breeding will be Andrade’s first big project, he said.

Source: The County. Read the full story here
Photo: Mario Andrade, new head of the University of Maine’s potato breeding program, works on a potato plant at the university’s Orono breeding facility in June. Credit and courtesy of Mario Andrade/University of Maine

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