Potatoes with as much vitamin C as a lemon could be grown and sold in England within five years using “game-changing” gene-editing technology, scientists have predicted. Researchers at the James Hutton Institute in Dundee could double the amount of vitamin C in a new strain of potato by snipping out sections of its DNA, as Max Stephens reports for The Telegraph.
Climate change: Specialist warns of future ‘existential threat’ to the British potato industry
The humble potato may struggle to grow in the UK in years to come due to climate change, researchers have warned. The James Hutton Institute (JHI) at Invergowrie, just outside Dundee, is now trying to find varieties that will grow in warmer conditions. Prof Lesley Torrance, the JHI research organisation’s executive director of science, warned that climate change posed an “existential threat” to the potato industry.
Hot potato! Canadian research into heat-tolerant potatoes builds on award-winning study
Helping producers find potato varieties that are more resistant to the potential disruption to growth caused by extreme heat is critical for ensuring the sustainability and profitability of potato production in Canada. Recognizing this need, Dr. Xiu-Qing Li, an Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) research scientist has been studying heat-stress in potatoes for years, leading to a number of breakthroughs in recent years.
USDA approves Toolgen’s reduced-browning GMO potato
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently posted two Regulatory Status Review (RSR) responses under the revised biotechnology regulations at 7 CFR part 340. According to a news release, APHIS reviewed a modified potato from Toolgen, Inc. This potato was modified using genetic engineering to alter tuber quality by reducing browning after cutting or peeling.
Microbiome project: Tools to optimize potato microbiome could reduce the use of agrochemicals
A project aimed at developing new tools to predict and optimize potato plant growth by mapping the microorganisms living on seed potatoes has been awarded 940.000 Euro in funding. A promising strategy to reduce the use of these agrochemicals, is to optimize the composition of beneficial microorganisms living on the plant. These microorganisms support growth and strength, creating a natural defense mechanism for potato plants.
Tissue culture tech boosts Kenya’s potato yields
A community project that provides farmers with healthy potato seeds, cultivated using innovative laboratory techniques is significantly increasing yields in Kenya, an agricultural expert says. Kenya’s average potato yield per hectare is around ten tonnes but has the potential to increase to three times that amount with the use of disease-free seed, according to Anthony Kibe, principal investigator of a potato community action research project.
Univ of Idaho researchers developing nematode resistant potatoes
University of Idaho researchers are introducing genes from a plant in the nightshade family into potatoes, seeking to develop spuds that resist harmful nematodes. The plant, called ‘litchi tomato’, has natural resistance to several species of cyst and root-knot nematodes. “That’s an unusual trait to have such broad resistance,” said Allan Caplan, associate professor in U of I’s Department of Plant Sciences who is involved in the project.
PepsiCo: Why there is an ongoing legal battle over the potatoes used to make Lay’s chips in India
Farmers’ rights activists say the PepsiCo India court case over its registration of a potato variety used to make its Lay’s potato chips, shows how companies which have registered plant varieties use coercive tactics against farmers to protect their interests. An ongoing court case between PepsiCo India and the petitioner, farmers’ rights activist Kavitha Kuruganti, has highlighted the tensions between plant-breeding corporations and farmers’ rights defenders in developing countries.
PAA: Maine potato researcher honored internationally for his work
While many have heard of the Caribou Russet variety of potato, many may not know one of the faces behind it’s creation. Brian Bouchard spoke with one of the researchers who is being honored internationally for his work – Greg Porter, Professor of Agronomy for the University of Maine. He said he never intended to become a researcher. Porter received the Honorary Life Membership Award from the Potato Association of America (PAA), the highest award they can bestow.
After tough growing season, Texas A&M potato breeding program to show latest varieties
The annual Texas A&M Potato Breeding Program Field Day, hosted by Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Barrett Potato Farms, will be July 27. This year there are 180 potato clones — russets, chippers, reds, yellows, purples, smalls and fingerlings — including Texas-released varieties, advanced selections and some advanced clones from other breeding programs.
Biotech Opinion: ‘Trust, Critical Thinking, and Potatoes’
This op-ed article is by Dave Douches (PhD), professor and Director of the Potato Breeding and Genetics Program and Director of the Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology Graduate Program at Michigan State University, and Project Director of the Feed the Future Global Biotech Potato Partnership. “As a scientist working in potato breeding for over 40 years, one may wonder why I am talking about trust and critical thinking.”
Dakota Russet now approved for McDonald’s fries
The most recent potato variety to join the list of approved McDonald’s potato varieties is the Dakota Russet, developed at North Dakota State University by Asunta Thompson, associate professor of plant science and potato breeder. “This is a dream come true,” Thompson said. “Having our russet accepted by McDonald’s for their french fries is the gold standard we all strive for…
Texas A&M AgriLife researchers modify potato starches to increase culinary and industrial applications
Humble potatoes are a rich source not only of dietary carbohydrates for humans, but also of starches for numerous industrial applications. Texas A&M AgriLife scientists are learning how to alter the ratio of potatoes’ two starch molecules – amylose and amylopectin – to increase both culinary and industrial applications.
Thwarting the wart: University of Prince Edward Island study seeks wart-resistant potato variety
Researchers at the University of Prince Edward Island are beginning their search for a potato variety more resistant to potato wart following a provincial economic loss of 300 million pounds of potatoes. Xiuquan (Xander) Wang, a UPEI associate professor working on the project, said the funding from Genome Atlantic will go toward comparing the genes of different potato varieties.
Public-private potato breeding partnership to develop climate-resilient potatoes
The International Potato Center (CIP), the globally active Dutch seed potato company HZPC, and the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) recently announced the launch of a second, five-year phase of their partnership to develop climate-resilient potatoes for tropical and subtropical conditions. CIP and HZPC will combine their experience, resources and germplasm to breed and select potato varieties suitable for farmers in tropical and subtropical Asia.
On the path to stress-tolerant potatoes
A good source of fibre and full of antioxidants, the potato is one of the most important food crops in the world – a crop that climate change is taking its toll on. How do different potatoes respond to heat, drought and waterlogging stresses? EU-backed scientists are investigating the changes that make potatoes resilient or susceptible.
HZPC: ‘New generation potato varieties promising for more food security worldwide’
The new generation of potato varieties is performing better and better under extreme climate conditions such as drought, according to the recent sustainability report of potato breeder HZPC, which was published on Earth Day (April 22). If the development continues, HZPC believes these innovations will contribute significantly to more food security worldwide, especially in regions where hunger is a real threat.
Video: Food fight – The battle over GMOs
Imagine being able to prevent childhood blindness with rice. No, this isn’t a biblical miracle. It’s the reality of genetically modified organisms. A 2015 Pew survey found that a majority of Americans don’t think GMO foods are safe to eat. But the same poll found a notable exception to that trend. 88% of scientists said they were safe to eat. Why?
Seed banks: The last line of defense against a threatening global food crisis
As the risks from the climate crisis and global conflict increase, roughly 1,700 seed banks are increasingly considered a priceless resource that could one day prevent a worldwide food crisis, write Salomé Gómez-Upegui and Rita Liu in an extensive article published by The Guardian. One of these is the Potato Park, located in Pisac, Peru.
Bejo introduces its first True Potato Seed hybrid
Bejo has obtained breeder’s rights on its first True Potato Seed (TPS) variety. The company says in a news release that this new potato hybrid, named Oliver F1, can be cultivated directly from botanical seed and, after transplanting, produces table potatoes in one season. Oliver F1 is a slightly floury table potato with an oval shape, smooth skin and very good taste, the company says.
ADAPT project milestone: Researchers to study 30 potato cultivars in controlled experiments
The Horizon 2020 EU project Accelerated Development of multiple-stress tolerAnt PoTato (ADAPT), in which Europatat is participating, aims to elucidate potato tolerance to single and combined abiotic stresses, and to develop new strategies for potato improvement. A set of 30 potato cultivars were selected for studies in controlled glasshouse experiments.
Wild relatives and crop breeding: Finding better tools for future-proofing potatoes
Thanks to a collaboration between researchers across the world, including the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, potato breeders will now have a much better toolkit to develop new varieties best suited to their needs in a changing climate. By identifying useful traits—like local adaptability and climate flexibility— in some of the dozens of wild varieties of potatoes, researchers could help breeders cut down on the time and cost to develop new cultivars.
Podcast: Potato breeding updates from the University of Guelph
Potatoes in Canada last spoke to Vanessa Currie, a potato breeding technician at the University of Guelph, at the 2021 Canadian Potato Summit, where she shared exciting new varieties being examined. In this episode of Tuber Talk, Potatoes in Canada guest host Dylan Sjolie catches up with Vanessa to recap the 2021 growing season and hear what’s new for the program in 2022.
Max Planck Society: Genome reconstruction opens doors to the transformation of potato breeding
More than 20 years after the first release of the human genome, scientists at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, Germany, have for the first time deciphered the highly complex genome of the potato. Their impressive technical feat, published in Nature Genetics, will accelerate efforts to breed superior varieties.
Late blight disease resistant potatoes: MSU receives $13 million USAID award for research
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Feed the Future Initiative has awarded a five-year, $13 million award for a collaborative partnership led by Michigan State University (MSU). The Feed the Future Global Biotech Potato Partnership will bring late blight disease resistant (LBR) potatoes in farmer-preferred varieties to the Asian countries of Bangladesh and Indonesia, and the African countries of Kenya and Nigeria.