PhD candidate Corentin Clot of Wageningen University & Research has made significant discoveries related to potato sexual reproduction that could simplify the breeding of this important crop. Clot’s research focused on the challenge of combining desirable traits with resistance to diseases and pests in potato varieties. He discovered that the gene involved in self-compatibility is already present in tetraploid potato varieties, and developed a two-step strategy for breeding that avoids inbreeding depression. This new approach offers a ‘third way’ between conventional breeding and true seed hybrid breeding, and has the potential to improve potato resistance and yield.
A new frontier in potato breeding: Unlocking the potential of wild potato species for late blight resistance
Researchers are exploring wild potato species for resistance to late blight, a significant disease in potato production. The study by the Institute for Breeding Research on Agricultural Crops and the University of Rostock identifies resistant species and their associated genes. The findings could guide future resistance breeding, offering a sustainable alternative to harmful fungicides.
Solynta, a Dutch startup, is revolutionizing agriculture with its development of hybrid true potato seeds. These non-GMO, pest-resilient seeds offer a sustainable alternative to traditional potato farming. Through its innovative technology, Solynta can combine beneficial traits in potatoes, including pest resistance and climate tolerance. The company’s future goals include increasing potato yields, reducing pesticide use, and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
A study by researchers at the International Potato Center focused on improving potato resistance to late blight (LB) by incorporating LB resistance from wild potato species into cultivated potatoes. The research involved techniques like rescue pollination and sexual polyploidization to transfer beneficial traits from wild potatoes to cultivated ones. The study resulted in the development of promising sexual and tetraploid hybrids with desirable traits such as high dry matter and LB resistance. These hybrids offer potential for future potato breeding strategies but further research is needed to validate their resistance and address any undesirable traits.
EUROPLANT Pflanzenzucht GmbH presents itself with a new, modern brand image. A new logo, new colours and new fonts create a contemporary corporate identity. The new logo reflects the start of the internal re-organisation of the company. In future, breeding, agriculture and distribution will operate under one brand. “The new trademark makes it visibly clear, that we are an innovative, modern company,” says Jörg Renatus, EUROPLANT Managing Director.
Europatat is proud to become an active partner of a new EU Horizon Europe project called PATAFEST. The project aims at protecting potato plants by means of pest spreading and resistance characterisation, pre-harvest treatments, and post-harvest solutions. PATAFEST will develop a unique approach to identify resistance genes in potato varieties against selected pests and pathogens in order to develop innovative strategies to control the spread of potato pests and reduce potato post-harvest diseases.
The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) conducted a review of genetically modified soybean, tomato, and potato plants to assess potential risks. A modified plant, developed by Ohalo Genetics, produces higher levels of beta-carotene for enhanced nutritional value. APHIS determines whether these plants pose a greater plant pest risk compared to non-modified plants and issues a response accordingly.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota reviewed a recent scientific paper on potato breeding, focusing on the transition from autotetraploid to diploid breeding. The complex genetic structure of potatoes has historically hindered yield improvements. The reviewed study proposes strategies to overcome genetic obstacles, such as identifying and avoiding deleterious variants and forming heterotic groups. This could lead to more efficient breeding, improved stress resistance, and better adaptation to environmental and market changes.
Irshad Ahmad Dar, a farmer from Pulwama, South Kashmir, has successfully cultivated a potato crop using True Potato Seed (TPS) technology, guided by scientists from Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Sciences and Technology Kashmir. Suitable for high-altitude areas, TPS involves growing potatoes from seeds, not tubers. The process yields “mini tubers”, which can be replanted to produce regular potatoes. The scientists have developed several high-quality hybrid varieties using TPS, some recommended to the All India Coordinated Project on Potato and local farmers.
Potato retail sales from January-March 2023 increased by 16% in dollar terms in the U.S., despite a 4.4% volume decrease. According to Potatoes USA, frozen potatoes led sales growth, up by 41.9%, followed by instant and fresh potatoes. However, volume sales for instant and refrigerated potatoes declined significantly. All fresh potato types except white, fingerling, and purple saw increased dollar sales. The average price per pound for fresh potatoes rose 18.7%. Bagged potatoes less than two pounds were the only category to see both dollar and volume growth.
Innovation in plant breeding: The promise of hybrid potatoes in enhancing sustainability, food security
A hybrid potato could help bolster global food security, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, according to a book presented at a mini-symposium in Wageningen. Funded by the NWO, the research project involved several institutes including Wageningen University & Research and Solynta. Hybrid seed can be produced faster, requires less material for planting, doesn’t carry diseases, and has longer storage potential. This could significantly impact potato yields in remote regions and respond swiftly to farmers’ needs.
Eleven Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) countries, including China and Pakistan, have launched an international potato industry network in collaboration with several universities and organizations. The network, initiated by Southwest University, aims to improve the quality and efficiency of the potato industry through academic exchange, research, and technology transfer. It will also offer training and resources, including a germplasm resource bank for enhanced potato breeding efforts.
Researchers from Solynta and Wageningen University and Research have published a review on the latest developments in diploid hybrid potato breeding. The study focuses on inbred line development, trait mapping, managing inbreeding depression, and trait introgression. It highlights techniques such as the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and CRISPR-based editing to accelerate trait introgression. The review underscores the importance of translating these scientific findings into practical breeding programs for farmers and end-users.
The University of Maine’s Agricultural Research and Development Farm annually tests 250 potato varieties, aiming to improve quality and yield. Led by professor Greg Porter, the team’s work, including the successful Caribou Russet, is funded by federal and public sector grants. The research is critical to meeting the increasing demand for Maine potatoes, a significant revenue source for the state. After 40 years contributing to potato development, Porter is due to retire at the end of the year.
Royal HZPC Group projects an 11% increase in turnover and a gross margin of 66.5 million euros for the 2022-2023 financial year. Traded seed potatoes and licensed cultivation volumes are expected to grow significantly compared to last year. The company also expects EBITDA to rise by around 1 million euros. The company announced that HZPC UK acquired Scottish mini tuber producer TLC Potatoes Ltd, further expanding the company’s reach.
New East African Potato Breeding Network to accelerate development of better varieties, improve crop yield
The 1st East Africa Potato Network Breeders Meeting was held in Nairobi, Kenya, bringing together potato experts from the region to discuss challenges, opportunities, and breeding strategies to improve crop yield. The newly established East Africa Potato Breeding Network aims to facilitate collaboration, enhance understanding of genetic and environmental factors in potato breeding, and accelerate the development of improved potato varieties.
The Horizon 2020 EU project ADAPT, which includes Europatat, is developing multi-stress tolerant potato varieties to withstand climate change. The final phase involves high-throughput phenotyping of Desirée and Lady Rosetta varieties at PSI facilities in Czechia. Previous field and glasshouse trials assessed tolerance to heat, drought, and waterlogging. Data from these trials will update stress response models and inform future breeding for climate-resilient potatoes.
Chinese scientists have made a breakthrough in hybrid potato breeding using evolutionary genomics to identify deleterious mutations. This discovery may shorten the breeding process and produce better potato varieties. The researchers also developed a whole-genome prediction model, improving trait prediction accuracy by 25-45%. This breakthrough could increase potato breeding efficiency by 50% and be applied to other crops.
Researchers at the UF/IFAS Agricultural Extension Center in Hastings are set to launch a program that could change the game in the future for local spud growers. They will be applying knowledge to develop new potato varieties geared to better withstand Florida’s challenging production conditions.
Today, HZPC Americas Corp. announced its new president, Aron Derbidge. Beginning May 1, 2023, Aron will step into the role to lead HZPC operations across the United States and Canada. Aron brings more than 20 years of experience in developing and marketing seed potatoes as well as supporting businesses in commercial growth across the U.S. and Canada. “I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to help advance an industry that has given me so much,” said Aron.
With the recent Precision Breeding Act passed, England now has the opportunity to capitalise on its world-leading research base in plant sciences and make agriculture more sustainable. Prof. Jonathan Jones FRS, Group Leader at The Sainsbury Laboratory who developed a GM fully late blight resistant PiperPlus potato, says “After many decades researching the science that can make our crops resistant to disease and less reliant on fungicides, I am delighted to finally see changes in legislation that will allow some of these innovations to be applied in the field.
Europatat warmly welcomes the Polish company LIND, which was established in 1996 as an investment of a Scottish family-run agricultural business with generations experience in the production of high-grade seed potatoes – J&WF Lind, located in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. J&WF LIND was a pioneer in production of pre-basic seed potatoes in Great Britain. It was also the first company to have commercial potato micropropagation laboratory and is the largest independent producer of pre-basic seed potatoes in Scotland.
The funding will support PoLoPo’s technology platform, starting with replicating ovalbumin, the protein found in egg white. The company says it expects to have prototypes in the coming 18 months, including protein-rich potato tubers and ovalbumin functional samples. PoLoPo says its ovalbumin will be identical to chicken egg ovalbumin in terms of functionality, nutritional value, and protein sequence.
The World Potato Congress Inc. is pleased to announce its March webinar with Dr. Marc Ghislain and Dr. Eric Magembe. The webinar is scheduled to be presented live on Tuesday March 21, 2023 at 10:00am EST (Canada/USA). The webinar is titled “Deployment of late blight resistant biotech potatoes in Africa”.